Google Life

In January of 2010, my wife and I traveled to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to do some teaching in various local churches. Prior to going, I had no idea where it was. In order to get my bearings so that I could see just where we would be traveling, I got my tablet and opened Google Earth. Immediately, I was located in my home. Then I typed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Slowly the view of earth began to rotate. It seemed like it spun forever. Finally, it landed just over the country of Malaysia. I was pretty shocked. It took me half way around the world. I started rotating the earth and began to get a sense of where I would be traveling; what bodies of water and countries we would pass over to get there.

With that simple example, I started to draw some parallels between Google Earth and the process of Christian growth.

Destination

Sometimes, particularly when you are struggling, it is easy to lose sight of your destination. In the same way that I needed to get a sense of where I was traveling, the Christian needs to do the same. Why? Because it helps you calibrate your expectations for the journey. When the Bible talks about our ultimate destination, it does so by describing not just a place but a state of being. The Bible says that my final destination is a matter of character; I am being slowly transformed into the likeness of Jesus. That seems unlikely if I only have my current location before me. But that is what the Scriptures confirm. They say it in many places, but none is more obvious than I John 3:2,

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him (Jesus), for we shall see him as he is.

The pages of Scripture are replete with promises of God’s good work in us to make us like Christ. Ephesians 4:23 says that we are to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Galatians 5:22-23 clarifies what that will begin to look like in this life when it describes the fruit of the Spirit,

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

When you are traveling, what happens once you get a bearing on your destination? You can calibrate your expectations so that they are not too high or too low. When I thought of the two twelve hour flights that I would have to take just to get to Malaysia, I calibrated how I needed to prepare myself for a long time cooped up in an airplane. I was able to pace myself, try to rest, keep fluids in me, and eat properly. This was going to be a marathon ride, not a quick jump from Atlanta to Savannah. Because I was properly realistic, I was more optimistic. It was a long flight, but the destination would be worth it.

When you think about the process of growing in grace, you must lift your head up and see where you are going. And when you do, you will see what a glorious destination awaits you. That, in turn, will give you hope as you battle your way, by God’s grace, to the finish line.

Copyright © 2015 Timothy S. Lane

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Tim Lane

Dr. Timothy S. Lane is the President of the Institute for Pastoral Care and has a counseling practice in Fayetteville, GA. He is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), having been ordained in 1991 and a member of Metro-Atlanta Presbytery. Tim has authored Living Without Worry: How to Replace Anxiety with Peace, and co-authored How People Change and Relationships: A Mess Worth Making. He has written several mini-books including PTSD, Forgiving Others, Sex Before Marriage, Family Feuds, Conflict, and Freedom From Guilt.

He has experience in both campus ministry (University of Georgia, 1984-1987) and pastoral ministry where he served as a pastor in Clemson, SC from 1991 until 2001. Beginning in 2001 until 2013, he served as a counselor and faculty at CCEF in Philadelphia, PA (Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation). Beginning in 2007, he served as its Executive Director until 2013.

In 2014, Tim and his family re-located to his home state, Georgia, where he formed the non profit ministry the Institute for Pastoral Care. His primary desire and commitment is to help pastors and leaders create or improve their ability to care for the people who attend their churches.  For more information about this aspect of Tim's work, please visit the section of this site for the Institute for Pastoral Care. He continues to write, speak and travel both nationally and internationally. Tim is adjunct professor of practical theology at several seminaries where he teaches about pastoral care in the local church.