Meditations for Troubled Times
Safe Journeys Home
Trips home can be very cool, particularly when being away from home is due to unforeseen and unpleasant events, like a lengthy hospital stay, a military deployment to an unsafe location, or a work assignment that requires prolonged travel.
Getting home is good. And getting there safe and sound is very good. In fact, just the anticipation of getting there carries us along as we make the trip.
In this sense, “home” is not just a dwelling. It's not just a dwelling and a family. It's the “everything” that makes up all that we are: from our respective persons and families to our activities and commitments. And the current problem with the Novel Coronavirus is that the shelter-in-place mandate has turned “home” into something different for almost everyone.
For this reason, many of us are anxious to “get back home,” not because we're actually away from home, but because we want to see things get back to normal. We want “being home” to be like the “old normal,” not the “new normal” about which we hear every day.
For us as a church, we want to worship on Sunday with everyone in the congregation, and not just those 65 years or younger. We want to hear the voices of friends who love and trust the Lord like we do, and we don't want to be “socially distanced” as we sing the hymns and recite the creeds. We want to pray together, and bear one another's burdens together, and hear the Word taught and applied together. We want to feast at the table together.
Journeys home can be difficult. Most of us still are on one.
Interestingly, we find a comforting insight about “journeys home” in Ezra 8:21-32, which recounts the 900-mile, four-month journey Ezra and a caravan of over 40,000 Jews made from their former captivity in Persia (successor to Babylon) to their freedom in Jerusalem. Putting aside the logistical challenge of moving that many people that many miles, Ezra and the priests also were delivering articles of silver and gold weighing almost 30 tons for the support of the temple in Jerusalem. This would have been a veritable “treasure trove” for thieves and robbers that routinely assaulted travelers on that route. But God was with the travelers, and He protected them and all they carried on their “journey home.”
As we navigate our days ahead—both in our everyday living and in our worship as a congregation—let's all resolve to bear in mind several principles as we think and pray about God's provision:
- The LORD has been with us along our way to this point. “For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” (Psalm. 91:11)
- We don't need to be fearful about the weeks and months before us because the LORD will go before us and lead us. “Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it. 8 It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:7-9)
- Even after the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, the LORD promises future protection for His children. “The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” (Psalm 121:7-8)
When Ezra and the exiles arrived in Jerusalem, they delivered the full sum entrusted to them into the hands of the priests, and they worshipped (Ezra 8:35-36). This response was fitting and appropriate for them then, after their four-month journey, and it is equally fitting for us as we now move into month number three of our “journeys.”