I’ve got another trip coming up. I’m heading off to Asia and the Pacific for a couple of weeks. I’m really looking forward to seeing new places and meeting colleagues on the ground. Then again, I know that I’ll miss Sue while I’m on the road and I’ll be very glad to get home. But it’s only a couple of weeks.
Things were different when we lived in Africa and went overseas for years at a time. I recall thinking that I wouldn’t see a daffodil for four years. It seems a silly thing, perhaps, but I like daffodils and love the way they signal a change in seasons. No daffodils meant no winter and no spring. African sunshine is wonderful, but I missed my home in many different ways. But it was only for a few years at a time.
I’ve never left my home knowing that I would never return’ I’ve never had to flee with my family from a government that wanted to imprison or even kill me and I’ve never been so impoverished that I had to move to a foreign land with the hope of finding a better life for myself and my family.
I can’t imagine what it must feel like to know that you are unlikely ever to go home. What are your emotions when the television shows a passing shot of a place you know well, but will never revisit, when you hear a few snatched phrases in your own language or when you meet someone who knows your friends and family ‘back there’?
We talk glibly about ‘asylum seekers’ and refugees, but how often do we reflect on the price people pay for being unable to return to their homes?
I spent the weekend in company of a refugee family, a single parent whose ex partner is controlling and manipulative, another young woman who has left her husband because of his addictive behaviours, families who are struggling to make ends meet, people who are facing tragic ill health…
And I have to ask, “Is Jesus really enough for them?”
Is Jesus really enough for me?
My friend Eddie was helping us to understand what Paul wrote to the followers of Jesus in Colossae. He helped us wrestle with the great truth – “At one time you all had your backs turned to God, thinking rebellious thoughts of him, giving him trouble every chance you got. But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence. You don’t walk away from a gift like that!” (Colossians 1:21-23)
Jesus is enough because he has been there. He has entered into human suffering, has shared it, has transformed it and “put our lives together”. But following Jesus is tough! Paul knows that (he’s in prison as he writes this letter). Following Jesus is not something for the weekend. It’s a “for all time”, “with all I am” deal.” Perhaps it’s only in taking faltering steps with him that we find out whether he really is enough.
I’ve put together a few additional reflections and prayer ideas. I hope you find them helpful in your stepping out in faith.