How to Enjoy the Journey of Life
Below is my senior chapel message I gave at Wartburg College:
I waited a while to write this chapel message because I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to talk about. It’s hard to even attempt to put all the memories, lessons, mistakes, successes, highs, and lows that have come to me throughout my four years here into a few minutes. But then my mom said something to me that kind of opened my eyes and seemed to wrap everything I had experienced and learned here all up into one brief statement.
But before I go into that, I want to give you a bit of a background and tell you about me.
I’m the kind of girl who loves to plan. I love organizing. I love color-coding. I love dreaming up big dreams. I love crossing things off a list. I love accomplishing things.
And while at times, this has been great, at other times, it has made me fall into the trap of believing that an accomplishment, achievement, or destination will fulfill me. That that is what will fill me up and give me joy.
So, this chapel message is called this, “Love the journey, not just the destination.”
I was a senior in high school who was unsure of what I wanted to do. It was confusing, and it was hard. I questioned myself because I didn’t know where I was supposed to go.
But the pastor here told me something on a visit that really stuck with me during my senior year of high school. He said this, “Madison, it doesn’t matter if you choose this school or another. No matter what you decide, you’ll end up where you’re supposed to be. God will use you.”
I thought that was really powerful for me to hear. Instead of focusing on an end destination, I simply needed to take a step and trust that God would show me the next one.
So I decided to go here. I really struggled with what I wanted to do. It was scary, and it was so frustrating. I decided to declare education. I spent all this time mapping out a three-year plan, and had this destination in my mind. But then I realized that that wasn’t what I wanted. I had to trust God when I felt this tug on my heart to go in a different direction. I had to let go of this destination in my head and instead take another step on his journey. I ended up declaring a different major.
So fast forward to now. My senior year. In my last semester. And guess what? God hasn’t magically shown me this end-all be-all destination that He has planned for me. In fact, it’s felt like He’s been the most quiet He’s ever been. It’s been frustrating, and it’s been hard. But one thing I realize with the words my Mom said to me just a couple weeks ago is this:
It’s not about a destination. It’s about the journey.
So maybe God isn’t giving me a clear direction and purpose for my life because He wants me to find my purpose in Him. Maybe He wants me to stop running after the next achievement I see ahead in my future and instead focus on Him and His word.
Maybe God wants me to quit planning for my whole entire life and instead look to Him to show me His next step.
It’s so easy to believe that you’ll finally be happy when you get this or that done. When you achieve this or that. When you decide on a major. When you meet your partner for life. When you write a book. When you finish that class.
But what happens when all those plans you have for yourself - those plans that you think will finally get you to a place of happiness - what happens when those things don’t happen?
What happens when those outcomes don’t meet your expectations?
Sometimes it may feel like your world is crashing down. It causes frustration, hurt, confusion, sometimes anger. But I’m here to tell you today that you don’t have to live that way.
You don’t have to live a life with a shaky and unstable foundation. You can live a life with a firm foundation.
A life that is filled with joy despite the circumstance.
A life that is filled with love despite some rejection.
A life that is bigger than anything you had planned.
This life is a life with God. It’s a life of faith. It’s a life of embracing where He has you at now. It’s a life of love. And you can live in that life. You can live in that life when you accept Him and believe in Him and trust Him.
Psalm 119:105 says this, “Your Word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”
It says path, not destination.
And Proverbs 3:5-6 says this, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and He will make your paths straight.”
Not your destination great - it says your paths straight.
It’s a journey.
Enjoy the journey. Enjoy the process. Stop thinking you’ll finally be happy when this or that gets achieved or gets done. Or when you have the man of your dreams or the ultimate goal you’ve been waiting to accomplish. Stop living in those wants and in that dreamed-up future. Start living in the present. Start enjoying the present.
Be happy with where your feet are.
Don’t look to the left. Don’t look to the right. Enjoy the stumbles. Enjoy the messes. The heartbreaks, the failed tests, the rejection. You’re right where you’re supposed to be. When you draw near to the Holy Spirit, He will draw near to You. And He will lead you and guide you to the right path.
And trust me, I know what it’s like to feel like He’s giving you the silent treatment. Like when it feels He’s not listening. Like He’s not even there. But maybe, just maybe He’s getting quiet so He can also quiet your soul. So you can stop seeking after these worldly desires and big end-all be-all dreams. And instead focus on Him. Dive into Him. Lean on Him. Not your own understanding.
I don’t believe God created you for one moment in time. He didn’t create you to land that dream job or marry that dream guy. God created you to love Him and love other people. He created you to be you, to be exactly who He has made you to be. Is it always easy to know exactly who that person is that He’s created you to be? No. But when you draw near, when you choose Him, when you open up your mouth and talk to Him like He’s your best friend, when you dig into the Word and pray and just explain, beautiful things happen.
Life isn’t about getting straight A’s or writing books or gaining followers or becoming something that society has created. Life with God is about love. It’s about grace. It’s about joy. It’s about rooting ourselves in Christ.
And I promise you. I absolutely promise you:
When you root yourself in Christ, you’ll be more bountiful than you could ever have imagined.
So when you’re feeling down, when you’re feeling lost, when that accomplishment doesn’t fill you up and your final grade report didn’t turn out like you wanted it to, remember who can fulfill you. Remember who will fill up your cup. Remember who brings you pure joy and pure love.
Remember where He has you now, and love the journey you’re on.