“Where are you from?” and “Whither are you bound?”

Camel caravan on the Taklamakan (Gobi) Desert

I am one of the most easily distracted people on the planet (hold on a second while a take a phone call…ok I’m back.)  My priorities are simple.  I want to honor God, feed his church on the Word, and lead them to fulfill his mision.  Unfortunately the terrain of this world is always getting my eyes off of Jesus and on everything else.  Here is an extended quote from Cable and French’s The Gobi Desert that captures my feelings exactly.

As definite as the exchange of signals between ships that pass on an ocean were the words exchanged between caravans when they met on the seas of sand.  The greeting always took the form of questions: “Where are you from?” and “Whither are you bound?”  They required an exact answer, and I learnt that no desert traveller mentions the stages which lie between his point of departure and his ultimate destination, the implication being that he left the one solely in order to reach the other [emphasis mine].  We had not gone many miles before we met a long train of carts laden with heavy merchandise.  Our driver hailed them in the usual way.  “Where do you come from?”  “From Kashgar,” was the answer.  Kashgar was nearly three month’s journey westward. “Wither are you bound?” “We are bound for Loyang,” came the reply…That caravan was launched on a five month’s trek, but in the outlook of the bashi nothing was worth mentioning except the point of departure and the place of destination.

Where is my focus?  What are my topics of conversation?  I am a sojourner too.  I am a man on a journey.  I am not a tourist on this earth.  Cable and French bring the discussion further into focus.

I thought a good deal about this custom and what might be the law which governed it, and I remembered that in an old book called The Pilgrims Progress John Bunyan makes his pilgrim answer each enquiry in like fashion.  “Whence come you and whither are you bound?” was the question Christian was constantly being asked by those who met him.  “I come from the City of Destruction and am going to the Celestial City.” was his unfailing answer.  These were Christian’s focal points, and he had left the one only in order to reach the other.  Everything which he met by the way was incidental, and I observed that men on great journeys, even in the twentieth century still feel as he did.  The goal is definite and must be reached.  Plains, deserts, mountains, small stages, and even large towns, are but incidental to the main objective of the journey.

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About Scott Dunford

Vice President at ABWE.
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