"...and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
Acts 1:8b NIV
In many ways, this week's Sunday Afternoon Tea post is a continuation of last week for I've been asked how I came to care so much about environmental and agricultural issues. Well first, I should begin by stating that I came to Christ in my mid-teens in the very late 1960s when these subjects were almost always in the news. The first Earth Day was an important event in my high school.
Then I married a man whose immune system had collapsed probably due to swimming in a polluted area of Lake Michigan as a teenager (not to mention being around Agent Orange in Viet Nam). Pretty much all of our married life I have had to read food labels, stay away from ingredients I can't pronounce, and cook mostly from scratch.
One of my husbands many doctors told him he was allergic to the 20th Century (now, of course, the 21st Century). He is one of those "canaries in the coal mine" who was experiencing the results of pesticides and processed foods already in the 1970s.
We also came early to experience the side affects of weed killers and chemical fertilizers when his friends had to drive him home from the golf course after he had a reaction and collapsed while playing one day. He still has to stay inside when our neighbors have their lawn sprayed. Although he does covet their perfectly green and weedless lawn, he also knows what is going into the air and soil.
So you see, my passion for organics and sustainable agriculture and chemical free environments have come about by my trip into the Far Country.
I've written before how God... in His wisdom (even if we do not understand at the time)... may lead us into the Far Country. The Prodigal went there on purpose and found it to be a hard place. We can find ourselves there through circumstances God ordains. Even when we have done everything right, we can visit the Far Country at His leading.
Why would He desire for us to leave our pleasant and worry free "safety zone" and enter the Far Country? So we can be His salt and light there. So Christians can have an affect on the Culture around us.
What is the Far Country for us in the 21st Century? Well, a few examples are...
- When we sit in a room waiting for our number to be called at a food pantry.
- When a child is born with a handicap and we find ourselves among a support group with other parents.
- When our prodigal child is in jail or in a drug rehab center and we meet with other parents.
- When we have lost our job and not found work for a year.
- When a tornado destroys our town and we must live in a shelter.
- When a spouse asks for a divorce out of the blue and we find ourselves in a life we never expected.
- When the results of the medical tests are not what we had hoped.
- When our children can no longer eat the fish we catch in the river.
But what about when I'm out of my comfort zone and that is not where I want to live?
Well, for those of us who told Him "Take my life and use it"... we probably didn't tell Him only if it was on a beach holding a delicious drink with a little umbrella stuck in it. He's going to take you where He needs Salt and Light and people who will be examples to others of living IN the hard times but gaining their strength THROUGH Him.
He wants you to tell people living in the Far Country that the Father wants the prodigal to return home. He desires for you to share with those who are in the Far Country not of their own free will... that God sees them, they are not forgotten in the wilderness. He has sent one who can empathize with their experience and share the One who gives peace in the storm.
The above verse reminds us that the disciples were to start in Jerusalem (their home) but then go out into the far lands to tell others about the Good News of the Gospel. Your "end of the earth" may not be Africa or India or an island nation... your place to give the good news may be in a New Age health food store because you understand.
But always remember this... the safest place to be in the entire universe is in the will of God... He will provide all you need and will be there every step of the way even as you walk through that Far Country. As long as you are not stomping your feet and having a temper tantrum because this was the last place you expected Him to lead you. :)
As He takes care of you, your light shining in the darkness will draw the little, the lost, the last, and the least to Him.
Artwork: Big Red lighthouse in Holland, Michigan