“Travelin’ man, travelin’ man, got no home, got no plan;
just an old worn out heart in my hand.
Travelin’ man, travelin’ man, I’ll get there any way I can.
I’m just an uninspired, tired-out travelin’ man.”
Those lonesome lyrics are from a little-known Stevie Wonder tune crooning about traveling. And there are others. In fact, we could probably all participate in a lengthy “sing-off,” and come up with scores of songs about wandering, or traveling, or moving on. You know you know them. Take a second right now and sing one out loud. It’ll surprise the folks around you! Even Johnny Cash penned such a lyric.
I'm just a poor wayfaring stranger
I'm traveling in this world of woe
Yet there's no sickness, toil nor danger
In that fair land to which I go
I'm going there to see my Father
I'm going there no more to roam
I'm only going over Jordan
I'm only going over home
The Scriptures speak often of the same theme, the same journey, the same longing. There is something in us that longs for home, longs for rest. Yet we live together “in this world of woe” knowing that the home we seek still lies ahead of us, still beckons us on. In his letter to his churches in the days of increasing Roman persecution, Peter calls believers to live out their identity as travelers, as sojourners.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. 1 Peter 2: 9-12
Now if we think about it, every journey has three parts. There has to be a leaving, a departure. Then, there’s that part in the middle, the “On the Road Again” part. (Go ahead, sing it!) And at last, the getting there.
This is the lyric of salvation. In His mercy, God calls us to leave. He said that very specifically to Abraham, remember? Then, He called His people out of Egypt. And Jesus called those Galilean fishermen to leave the lives they had known for generations, and things would never be the same. He calls us the same way. Jesus calls us to leave the old ways of trusting in ourselves, of surrounding ourselves with sinfulness, of doing it “My Way.”
The Lord also calls those who are His to travel well, by traveling with Him. In every case, the promise of God is the presence of God. Before God tells Abraham about the Promised Land, He tells him to begin the journey. The Israelites were called first into the desert to assemble in the presence of God. God led them there; He sojourned with them. So He does with us. We live our lives in the presence of a merciful heavenly Father who dwells among His people as we travel onward.
And we too, united with the faithful saints of old, look toward that destination at journey’s end. We seek to live faith-filled lives now, always remembering that we travel toward a place of enduring rest. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. (Hebrews 13:14)
And so we journey on. We do not wander aimlessly; we do not journey in vain. But in Christ, led by the same Holy God that was seen as a pillar of fire, we travel onward toward the place prepared.
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:2-4
That’s where we’re headed. Thanks be to God!