Taking Joy in the Journey
A devotional by Amanda Wen
“…being confident that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 1:6 (NIV)
This past summer, my family and I vacationed in Branson, Missouri.
A popular vacation destination for my area, Branson features the gorgeous Lake Taneycomo, a coldwater lake perfect for trout fishing. My grandparents, who were both passionate trout fishers, loved Branson, and we spent many happy vacations there as a family. In recent years, I’ve taken my own crew, and although we’re not super-experienced anglers, we do enjoy taking a day, renting a boat, and floating along the cool shimmering waters of Taneycomo to see if we can catch any trout.
To effectively catch fish, there are some important steps. Before we set out, we asked at the marina which part of the lake people had been having the most luck. We also asked what kind of bait had been most effective. The answer on this particular outing was to use Power Bait, a brightly-colored Play-Doh-like substance that trout apparently go nuts for. And not just any variety but the garlic scent. I am not a fan of garlic, so this wasn’t exactly music to my ears.
The same is true for whatever we’re seeking in this life here on Earth. Although God does occasionally drop blessings into our laps, blessings we were not looking for or working toward, many times He does want us to do our part. If it’s a job we seek, we need to make certain we’re gaining the necessary experience and expertise and applying in the right places. If we’re looking for new friends, we must demonstrate love and care for others.
But one thing I’ve discovered in my journey of waiting is that frequently it’s not always about the destination. As a certified Type A overachiever, I tend to want to take the most direct route to my goals, but that is not how God operates. He’s far more concerned about the refinement of my character: the cutting away of what doesn’t please him and the nurturing of what does. He uses our waiting times to mold our character and continue the sometimes-slow process of sanctification, of making us more like Jesus.
I learned on our fishing trip the joy of focusing on the journey more than the destination. The weather was cool and cloudy, most welcome in Branson in August. Lake Taneycomo is known for being foggy, and on this day, the fog never truly lifted, creating an almost mystical effect. The silvery lake was surrounded by rich foliage in a variety of green shades.
Spending time in the boat, in nature, having pried my family away from their electronic devices, was so relaxing and rejuvenating that I didn’t care if I caught a single fish. That wasn’t the point. The point was the trip itself, not the number of fish.
We didn’t catch many fish that day. In fact, I think between the five of us we caught only three. But it didn’t matter. It wasn’t about the fish. It was about spending time together as a family, relaxing in nature, slowing down in a way that has to be planned, intentional, and non-negotiable in our fast-paced world. And the memories we made that day far outweigh any fish we caught.
I pray that I’m able to take this attitude with me in my everyday life, too. That I’ll focus less on what achieving my goals looks like and more on the journey. I want to focus more on God, and what He’s trying to teach me, and how He is achieving the sometimes slow, barely-perceptible process of making me look more like Him.
Because even when I can’t see the progress, His promise is still true: He’ll carry on the work until all is finally complete at Jesus’ return.
Amanda Wen is an award-winning writer of contemporary inspirational romance and split-time women’s fiction.
A first place winner in the 2017 Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest, she also placed first in the 2017 Phoenix Rattler Contest, the 2017 Great Expectations Contest, and the 2016 ACFW First Impressions Contest, among others. In addition, she was a finalist in the 2018 ACFW Genesis Contest.
Amanda is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and regularly contributes author interviews for their Fiction Finder feature. She’s also been spotted onstage with the worship team at recent ACFW conferences. Amanda is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.
In addition to her writing, Amanda maintains an active and rewarding career as a freelance cellist, frequently performing with symphony orchestras, string quartets, and her church’s worship team. She lives in the Midwest with her amazing husband and their three adorable and hilarious Wenlets.
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