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Ambitions and Journeys


Issue 138

Do you have a dream? It may be that you hold an ambition in your soul which is as yet unfulfilled. For some people it is an ambition to achieve a particular lifestyle and they work towards it; for others it is a specific status or position, and yet others may have some other achievement as their goal.

You may take a more relaxed approach and keep working with your overall ideas in mind,  or you may be very focused, organising your time and your energy in such a way as to climb the rungs, or take the steps necessary to arrive at your promised land.

Some coaching or self-help literature may encourage you to realise your dream and even provide you with a methodology to enable you to become intentional and deliberate. However you view this process, there is an element of journeying about it. We even use the language of travel: “she’s come a long way” or “he’s on a career path” or “the road to success”.

Some Christians are concerned about the concept of ambition,  worrying that it may be self-centred or ungodly. Pursuit of certain goals is seen to be shallow, shabby and impious.

There is an experience, however, in this area to which many will testify. The experience is encapsulated in the language used to explain the situation. “How did I end up here?” “I never dreamed I’d be doing this – not in a million years”, “this is certainly not what I planned”, or very commonly “if you’d asked me ten years ago what I’d be doing now, it certainly wouldn’t be this”.

Is it that all these people are so bad at planning that they just can’t get to the right place? This is unlikely because it is those people who do think about their situation and plan to fulfil ambitions who are able to express surprise. If you don’t have any plans, there are no surprises because you have no specific expectations. It’s just that the journey turned out differently.

Every Jewish citizen in the first century dreamed of celebrating Passover in Jerusalem. It’s a dream that is alive today. For some they would need to save for years for enough money to make the journey. One such person, lived in Libya, near the North African coast. He came to Jerusalem in the early 30s AD to fulfil his dream. We don’t know how hard it was for him nor how long he had been planning the trip but we can be sure he had put some considerable effort into getting himself into this position.

The rough hand of a Roman soldier pulled him out of the crowd of spectators watching an execution party and this man found himself carrying a cross-beam. This was not the journey he had planned. This was not what he had expected. Not in a million years did he plan this experience and if you’d asked him five years prior to his Jerusalem trip what would happen, it would not be this.

Simon of Cyrene, perhaps should be made patron saint of all those who felt they were on one journey but ended up on another. He was the first of a long line of people to find their plans interrupted by the Man of the Cross. Now Simon was sharing in the most important journey ever made – the journey of Jesus of Nazareth to the Hill of the Skull. This was not easy or pleasant, but it was profound and significant. It was an enormous privilege beyond his dreams and expectations and certainly his understanding. Simon was not the last person to find himself carrying the cross and walking with Jesus. Maybe as you reflect on where you’ve ended up on your career path, you can see the moment when some unseen hand intervened and changed your plans – for good.


Matthew 27: 31-35

31After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. 32As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). 34There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

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Tags: ambition, expectation, journey, surprise

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Geoff Shattock

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