This past weekend, Jim and I watched a documentary on Netflix called Footprints; The Path of Your Life. It follows ten men from Arizona that walk the 500 miles Camino de Santiago, the Way of Saint James, in forty days.
Now, there are a couple of things I’m not going to do. I’m not going to retell the movie to you. I wouldn’t be able to do it justice but I will say, it’s one of the best things we’ve watched in a very long time.
I’m also not going to tell you the history of Camino de Santiago. Google it, read about it, discovery it for yourself…again, I promise, it’s worth it.
But what I am going to tell you is what things struck a cord with me. There were two major ones and even though I wrote them down at the time, I needn’t have bothered; I remember them clearly.
The first was this quote: Suffering passes…having suffered remains.
This one made me think inwardly. I thought of the things of my life that were painful and how they impacted me as the person I am today. Some positively, some not so much…but for better or worse, our experiences do change us.
Saint James said in James 5:10-11, “Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered.”
As I’m writing this, I’m watching a Monarch caterpillar shed its skin as it passes from the caterpillar stage to the pupa or chrysalis stage of metamorphosis. It wiggles and moves as first the dark skin balls up and off its body. Then it continues until its skin, jade green, hardens to form the chrysalis that it will remain in for 9-14 days.
To me, it looks like a painful process. There are times the caterpillar stops moving and you see it’s body shiver, as if its exhausted by its effort. But it doesn’t stay still for long. The whole process took less than an hour. I can’t see what’s happening inside…but I know the result will be amazing!
Now, except for the fact that I brought the caterpillar in to keep it safe, I can do nothing to help the process that it must undergo. This is a journey it must make on its own. Most of my own transformations are that was as well; others can offer support and encouragement, but the change must come from within me.
There are times that I suffer due to health issues. There are times I suffer do to other people’s actions or inactions. And there are times that I suffer because of what I do or fail to do. The latter, of course, seems to be the most common.
Paul said, in Romans 7, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate, I do.” Yep…that’s me!
But suffering, whether self-inflicted or put upon me, can bring about a positive change in me, if I allow God to use it. Suffering passes…having suffered remains. But only we can determine if we are going to use that suffering for good.
The other thing that stood out to me was this… “What good is it to reach our goal if we do not walk among those who are weaker?”
I scrambled to write this down and had Jim back up the video twice: once to make sure I had it correctly and the second time, because it started a conversation between the two of us as soon as we heard it.
Our goal, our eternal goal, it to make it heaven, right? How many of us are going to accomplish that all on our own? Now, obviously, we need Christ to accomplish this, as He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
But what of all the other people in your life that have walked with you on your path? I think of my parents, who took me to Sunday school and church. I think of the ministers and teachers I had. I think of people who prayed for me and encouraged my faith journey.
Now that I’m an adult and am responsible for my own faith journey, it doesn’t mean I walk alone. Jim and I walk together, along with so many people who move in and out of our lives. Some walk with us a short while…some have been walking with us for many years.
But what of those who are new to the faith? Or have no experience with studying and learning about God? Do we run ahead or do we, like so many did for us, slow our journey so that we can bring others along with us?
Every one’s path is different. Some begin early in life and some not until later. But none of us get there on our own.
Who do you have in your life that you are “bringing along”? Who were those who slowed down to guide you on your path? How can you share your faith today?
Thank you, Lord, for all those who helped me along my path…and continue to do so everyday. May I be mindful of those who you have put along my way; teach me to be patient and as generous with my time as others have been with me.