As I pack my entire life into a few small boxes, a conflation of emotions swirl like a snowstorm in my mind at what this season of change will hold. A mild sense of nausea about leaving behind everything I’ve known washes up against a euphoric shore of excitement for what will come; pressing anxieties are subordinated by the long to-do list of my brain as I make final adjustments and preparations.
But from amidst this turbulent bag of feelings comes the realisation that life in this earthly body, in truth, is itself one single, passing journey. A series of fleeting, treasured, momentary happenings propelled by the ticking machine of time; memories made as we shake hands and build empires and meet lovers and kiss and break up and break down and laugh and cry and one day, finally, reach our destination.
This life is one short train journey, if you like; a journey that begins at a station not of our choosing. We are passengers and travellers, never staying still, never able to hold on to what has come before, forever growing older as the landscape around us changes with the rhythm of the motion. Each life event that seems so massive to us at the time it happens – our first exams, moving to university, our first kiss, our marriages and our breakups, our career breaks and our successes- are no more than momentary stops at stations on the route. In those passing places we forge our identity, we have conversations with fellow passengers that give substance to life, and act as if these short stops are our permanent residence; but in a minute we are moved on again, forever journeying toward our destination.
This is the realisation that comes when we, as fellow humans, come up against the man Jesus Christ and His astonishing claims. He, stepping down into the transitory materiality of our little Earth, tells us that it is all passing away, it is all a chasing after wind, a meeting place for beings smelted in the crucible of time. This man, who claimed to have “no place to lay his head” is the leader who sends his disciples out into the villages with nothing but the staff in their hands and the clothes on their back, because, He says, anything that we as humans could hope to hold on to – our homes, our possessions, our victories and power – are all passing away. He stepped into the Galilean dirt for one second in history to tell us that this earth, in which we hold everything we treat as dear, is simply a passing place to an eternal destination.
That is why the early church leader, Peter, calls us “foreigners and exiles” – for once we meet with the Eternal Son, earthly things pale as no more than the passing landscape glanced out the window of the train. We have an idea of where this train is taking us – for we have been given a map of the stops. However – and this is the crux of free will – the choice of where we get off is up to us. However, the man Jesus, boldly claiming to be “the way, the truth, and the life,” tells us of only one station that will give us access to eternal life in the abundance of God – and that is through Him. He is the “gate to the sheepfold,” he is the train station to Paradise.
This realisation can be either overwhelmingly nauseating or an immense freedom. For us who claim to follow Christ, the choice to trust is the equivalent of dying a death, for He claims that those who hope to save their lives will lose themselves, but those who lose their lives to Him will save themselves. But, in that moment of dying to a world that is, in reality, dying before our eyes with every passing moment, we are lost in a joy that comes only with surrender; a surrender as we live with hands open, hearts unburdened, enjoying these fleeting moments as a foretaste of the day when we see our Father face to face when we step onto the platform of eternity.
Any fear of the future, as I embrace my journey North, is drowned in the perfect love of an eternal Daddy, knowing I, a being construed of breath and dust, am called a Son of God. For the meantime, I live to take in the breathtaking scenery as I make my way Home.