Book Introduction

There are times in our lives when we recognize we need to regroup to move ahead, when we need to embark on a journey. Maybe we find ourselves in bondage on some level; maybe we feel called to step out of our familiar existence and move into uncharted waters. Or maybe we are simply moving into a new phase of life.

The question is this: How do we prepare for the journey so we can make it to the destination?

A few years ago, as my wife and I embarked on a journey through Atlanta, Georgia on our way to a mountain cabin deep in the Chattahoochee National Forest, memories from my youth started flooding back to my mind. You see, I was fifty-seven years old, well adjusted (whatever that means), happily married, and living the life of my dreams as an associate pastor in a small church in Longwood, Florida. I thought about the many journeys it had taken in getting to this place in life.

The traffic was heavy that day as it flowed through downtown Atlanta like a stream snaking down the mountains carrying everything caught in its current. I was taken aback as I remembered my life in the 1980’s. I was in my twenties then and felt like I could tame the world. I have always had an unwavering passion for life, for experiences, and the unique beauty of my surroundings, whatever and wherever that might be.

I never doubted I could “make it” in life. The world was mine to conquer. Though my ambitions were tempered by the reality of daily living, I woke up each day with a drive to plow through life on my own, like an explorer headed out into the wilderness hoping to discover a vast paradise.

I was passionately in love with my high school sweetheart and had moved to Georgia and joined the Army just so I could be near her. While this might sound romantic and adventurous, I was also becoming a drug addict and making terrible decisions. I was an impulsive, passionate, drug addicted young person without a clue. It was a dangerous combination.

So here I was in Atlanta once again. More old memories and ghosts of their experiences flooded my mind: hiking up Stone Mountain and camping on the steep side (even though we weren’t supposed to camp there), looking at the vast expanse of God’s creation from Kennesaw Mountain and feeling the presence of soldiers who skirmished in the fields below, walking through Underground Atlanta—an entertainment district under the viaducts deep in the city—and experiencing people from all walks of life; all of these overwhelmed me. I had thought all these adventures were the answer to fulfillment in life. In reality, I was navigating on my own aimlessly.

When I was young I was taught to be my own man, to be independent, that anything I achieved would be done by my own willpower. My parents didn’t necessarily teach me this, society did. The message is everywhere. From Burger King’s motto, “Have it Your Way,” to every store trying to personalize your experience so you will buy more, we often grow up feeling like we are the center of existence. Even spiritually, we often feel we are the center of God’s world. In fact, some preachers want to you think that. Why? Just like the stores, it’s savvy marketing. When everything is centered on you, the more likely you are to keep coming back for more in that elusive quest to reach the top of the mountain.

As I have looked at my own journey and the journeys of so many others, I have seen so much in common with the Exodus story in Scripture where Moses led God’s people out of bondage through the wilderness to the Promised Land.

Jesus wants us to view life as a journey and to embrace each season on this journey. Jesus wants us to be free from the bondage of ourselves. He wants us to find true fulfillment in life–fulfillment that can only be found in Him. When we make our lives all about God, all about Jesus and others around us, we find true fulfillment and freedom. This, my friend, is the Promised Land!

There are often several legs on the journey that make up the pieces of our larger quest to reach the Promised Land. This book will help you identify the journey you may be on or about to embark on, prepare using Biblical principles, and lay the groundwork to help you navigate the many obstacles and pitfalls which often keep us from reaching the sacred place God has for us. Additionally, I want you to know the secret of living in the Promised Land once you arrive.

As you read these pages, as you possibly see yourself in this narrative so many of us share, my prayer is you will be given the strength to depart on this journey and the knowledge of what to expect along the way, so you will be able to enter and live in your Promised Land.

Let’s prepare for the Exodus of our lives.