The Oasis: A Waypoint or a Destination?

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By Larry Short

If you use a GPS, you may now be familiar with the term “waypoint.” When I’m out driving somewhere, say my sister’s house in Bellingham, and I’ve entered her address as my destination, I may be halfway there when suddenly my stomach starts growling and says, “I need a Wendy’s chili. With cheese and onions. And a chocolate Frosty while you’re at it!”

So I’m in the middle of Nowheresville (having just driven through Everett) and I have no idea where the nearest Wendy’s is. But I tell my GPS I have a new location and ask her where I can find the nearest Wendy’s. And Siri cheerfully informs me there is a Wendy’s ahead, in Marysville, just a few minutes off to the west of Highway 5, on 33rd Ave NE off Marine Dr. N. “Aha!” I exclaim. “There is an oasis of tasty Frosty-ness ahead!”

Then before I ask for the point-to-point calculation, Siri asks me if Wendy’s is a destination (replacing Bellingham) or a waypoint on the way to my destination.

And I quickly let her know: it’s a waypoint, of course. I didn’t drive all this way just to go to Wendy’s! I could have done that on South Hill (in two different spots, no less). After my little refreshment at the oasis of Wendy’s, I still plan to get back on the road, re-energized, and continue pressing north toward Bellingham. (Provided no other fast-food emergencies arise.)

Is the Oasis We Call Elim a Destination … or a Waypoint?

That should be an easy question. Elim’s a waypoint, right? Our destination is beyond, to a Kingdom ruled forever by our Lord Jesus Christ. Not Bellingham, but a City on a Hill.

Our problem is, we too often treat Elim (and other waypoints in this journey of life) as destinations in and of themselves. The oasis becomes a place we are comfortable at, we want to settle in. (I know — Darlene and I have now been here for almost 20 years!*) New people arrive at the Oasis all the time, and occasionally others leave. We have our circle of close friends … do we want to be bothered about new people? Meeting new people (and trying new things) can be risky and uncomfortable.

This week I read a beautiful speech by World Vision’s second president, Stan Mooneyham, who was a true adventurer. (This video documentary of one of his greatest adventures, Operation Seasweep, will bring tears to your eyes!) Stan gave this speech less than three months before he died, and it was titled, “Keep Marching Off the Map.” Here is an excerpt that caught my eye:

We are a people in pilgrimage. A pilgrimage is not a place and a path is not a destination. Emerson said that where you are on the path is not nearly as important as the direction you are facing. So where we happen to be in our progress is not nearly as critical as knowing we are facing in the right direction, which is the direction toward God and toward that ultimate city that has no foundation and which has not been designed and made by any human engineers — God’s City.

As long as we are facing in that direction, then where we are on that path is not so important. Some may judge us as being more sophisticated and mature and still others may judge us as being less mature in our understanding of the holistic gospel and the other things we are trying to do. The judgments really don’t matter, as long as we are facing in the right direction. I hope that everything about us always has such impermanence that we are always tent-dwellers like Abraham, our ancestor, our forefather.

I know the tendency is to build monuments. The tendency is to settle down. The tendency is to get very comfortable. I love those green pastures, believe me. I love to sit down beside the still waters and I love to feast at the table that God spreads in front of me. To tell you the truth, I would be like the disciples Jesus took up the mountain with him. I would want to build tents and I would want to stay there where the glory has descended.

But, Jesus was The Way, not the destination. And “the way” means that we’re always in process.

Let’s Keep Moving Along the Way

Here at Elim, we are “a people in process,” in motion to a destination. We must keep our eyes fixed on The Way, on Jesus, who is leading us there. We must never grow too satisfied with any one waypoint, whether it be a church we love, or our job, or retirement, or even our family. God calls us to rest, and to be satisfied with all that He has given us; but then to get up tomorrow morning and to keep moving toward our final destination!

*And no, this is not any kind of announcement that we are moving to a different city or anything like that! We love Elim, and, Lord willing, this will be our waypoint for many years to come. But please let’s all continue to keep moving, to keep growing, to keep our eyes fixed on the Way, to keep humming “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passin’ thru,” and to keep pointed in the direction of our ultimate Destination!

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