The Journey is the Reward

Back before he was ever famous, Steve Jobs (CEO of Apple Computer) wrote a book with the title, “The Journey is the Reward”.  Of course, this is not an original thought, and originated from ancient times.  But the saying does have significant meaning.

All too often we equate the destination, and what we receive at the destination, as our reward.  We focus, on the fact that although we may be suffering now, we will surely be rewarded in the end.  We apply this to our career, business, church, our family, and to our own lives.

But, this saying puts a different meaning to the actual journey that occurs on the way to your destination.  It says that the journey, not the destination, is the real reward.  This is a hard concept to swallow.  For isn’t it the journey that gives us heartache, causes us trouble and difficulty, and requires perseverance and great endurance?

Maybe it would help if we looked at our life, not as an endurance test, but as a work of art, a beautiful creation, a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, that we, and God, are putting together.  Of course, our life doesn’t look like that, at least to us, does it?  Our lives are full of difficulty, trouble, sorrow, disappointment, mixed with some positive experiences as icing on the cake.

But, if the journey is the reward, then we must begin to look at things differently.  Problems and difficulties are for our learning and training.  Disappointments cause us to reflect, and to draw conclusions from.  Sorrow makes us grateful for the benefits we’ve received.

Now, I’ve said all this as if we could turn on a switch and make it happen.  But we know it’s not quite that easy.  We have been programmed to think in certain ways.  Some of this programming comes from upbringing, some from our associations, and some from our life experiences.  However they come they form a part of who we are, and largely determine how we react to those things that come at us.  We can change, however.

Change is, for most people, difficult and unwanted.  Change requires learning or relearning what we thought we already knew.  Change involves a certain degree of uncertainty, venturing into the unknown, sailing into uncharted waters.  As we grow older we naturally avoid things that might bring change into our life.  We seek a stable, and predictable environment.

But, what if change is necessary for growth?  What if change is necessary for us to achieve fulfillment in our journey?  What if change is a necessary ingredient for us to receive the reward?

I’ve always been puzzled by the lives of the Apostles of Jesus (including Paul) depicted in the New Testament.  This puzzlement comes as I recognize that their lives were, for the most part, completely unplanned and full of change and surprise.  They didn’t know what would happen next.  Yet, for all that, they appeared happy and fulfilled.  Paul was shipwrecked, beaten, thrown into prison, stoned, and many more things, yet one might infer that no happier human-being had ever walked the face of the earth than Paul.  Surely, he understood the importance of the phrase – “The journey is the reward.”  The real question is do we understand it.  Fortunately, it’s never too late to learn.

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