Last Sunday at Community Christian Church in Tamarac, we celebrated Pastor Scott Eynon’s 20th anniversary as leader of the church. We’ve been members and attending for ten years.This week Pastor Scott continued his teaching series based on the book The Story. Today we were on chapter six, entitled Wandering, and his message was not just appropriate for us his flock, but for America.
For those of you not familiar with the book, we’re at the point where the children of Israel, after having received the Ten Commandments, are set adrift to wander in the desert because of their belligerence.What was supposed to have taken just eleven days ended up taking 40 years (Deuteronomy 1:2-3). Pastor Scott began by stating that God is not a big fan of the most direct or scenic route. He stated that, “God’s way is rarely the quickest way and it is seldom the easiest way, but it is the best way.” Scott emphasized that, “God is more concerned about who you are, and developing our character, than where you are going.”
In other words, God is more concerned about the journey than the destination. However, our impatient, impulsive, and impetuous “are we there yet” manner causes our focus to be diametrically opposed. What Pastor Scott stressed was that the wandering of the children of Israel was a direct result of their whining, complaining, and lack of gratitude for what God had done for them. It took one day and a night to get the Israelites out of Egypt but it took 40 years to get Egypt out of the Israelites.
As I sat there, I began to see the correlation of the Israelite wandering and the wandering of the American people. Pastor Scott had defined the word wandering as “living in the space between where you start and where you want to be.”America is in that space and we are wandering because we have forgotten the blessings of liberty and freedom fought for and passed down by our Founding Fathers. We are forgetting that in our Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson articulated that “our unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” come from our Creator, God — not man. You see the “pursuit of happiness” is the journey upon which we can all freely embark. It may not be rosy and easy, but it is the God-given opportunity and choice that we as Americans possess. In contrast — actually the antithesis — is the focus on the destination, the “guarantee of happiness” which some believe they can actually provide.
Just in the case of the dissenters within the Israelites, we have complainers in America who disparage those who embark upon a journey leading to individual success and achievement. And those dissenters proffer slogans such as “shared prosperity,” “income inequality,” and “fair share.” These complainers and dissenters believe they can redistribute happiness in order to bring everyone to a common destination — when actually history proves they only bring everyone to a common misery.
These dissenters — whom we have come to know as modern-day liberals (as opposed to classical liberals), progressives and/or socialists, make inane statements such as “trapped by jobs” and “liberate from work” in order to make us take the exit ramp from our individual journey and wait for their collective bus which will speed us to their intended destination.The problem is, the bus is overcrowded, run-down, and cannot operate unless parts and gas are taken from those not riding the bus on their journey — by force and coercion. In the end, individuals stop taking journeys or too many are on the bus, and no one reaches the destination.
You see, the Israelites spent 40 years to reach the promised land. Americans have already been blessed with a land flowing with milk and honey. Our wandering comes from those trying to make us believe that life is about fairness, equality of outcomes and not about our own individual journey.
As Pastor Scott said, “suffering is inevitable, misery is optional, happiness is a choice.” It seems Scott and Benjamin Franklin have the same idea, as Franklin’s idea was “The U. S. Constitution doesn’t guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself.” And you can only catch happiness on an individual journey, not collectively.So, let us heed Pastor Scott Eynon’s lesson using the example of the wandering of the children of Israel. Be gracious, start your journey, be in the pursuit of happiness and don’t exit the ramp waiting for someone to guarantee it. Take responsibility, do not seek to cast blame and live life to the fullest.
I will leave you with Scott’s closing verse from today’s Sermon. Phillipians 2:14-15 (NIV), “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.” God bless and have a great Sunday. As always, steadfast and loyal.