The Far Country... that is what Luke called it (in the King James Version of the Bible). I'm not sure why, but my ponderings this week took me to that Far Country.
I was whining to God as my body rebelled against the second week of long hours at work, asking why He didn't just drop money into my bank account to pay for Christopher's education. I enjoyed the work and the people but I felt horrible physically.
That is when the concept of the Far Country came to my mind. In Dr. Luke's account, it is the younger son who sends himself to the Far Country. There he finds himself tired, broke, hungry, and totally dependent on another person. He was in a place he did not want to be. In this case, it was the work of his own hands that brought about discomfort.
However, that evening as I lay in bed with the room spinning around (or so it seemed), God brought to me the realization that HE often leads us into the Far Country. We find ourselves in an uncomfortable place when we prefer to be well fed and "at home"... comfortable. My Far Place was at an air conditioned book store where I was treated with kindness. It was my own body that complained at the amount it was being pushed beyond what I thought was endurance.
There have been years in my life when the Far Place really was... far away. Those years when He moved us to locations I didn't really want to go, often keeping us lonely for true friendships. There were the delightful places when we met friends who became closer than sisters and brothers. We enjoyed living in beautiful towns with quaint stores and restaurants, along lakes and rivers, near tall trees or open skies. Many, however, were difficult places that stretched our faith and brought us closer to Him who sent us there... the only source of fellowship... our One True Friend, and to each other.
I don't know why we live with illness, tired bodies, minds that get confused at times, cranky people, difficult bosses, family members who do not understand, anemic bank accounts, and circumstances that test us. It has something to do with being molded and shaped into His image. I know He will move us across the world to reach one person, if we are the instrument of His grace to another.
Perhaps this world is the true Far Country, as we are "pilgrims and strangers" just travelling through. We are not Home. In the interim, I must remember He did not call me to be comfortable, He called me to be conformed to His image. Sometimes that means visiting the Far Country, as He did... to redeem His Beloved.