Page 216 included the closing session of the National Student Conference and a drive through almost the entire length of the state of Indiana. The day began early with packing up my room and display to head home. I made it to breakfast this morning and was able to chat with some students and campus ministry staff before the closing worship session of the conference. This morning’s session looked at the life of Daniel and his example of having hope in exile. It was through a study of Jeremiah’s writing that Daniel realized that the end of the exile in Babylon was near. In looking forward with hope, Daniel turned to God in confession and repentance for Israel’s failure to look to God in their time of trouble and exile.
We live in trying times, and as Christians it may often feel like we are living in a foreign land as the familiar landscape of life has made a massive shift over the last generation or two. The life of Daniel is one that stands as an example of how God’s people ought to live with integrity and influence as we look forward to the time we will be able to head home. While there are a lot of lessons we should learn and apply from Daniel’s life, one of the most important may well be to pray for and work toward peace and prosperity for the place where we live as aliens and exiles.
After the conference was over, I began the journey home with a few stops along the way to stretch my legs and take some photos. The first stop after lunch was at Cataract Falls between Spencer and Cloverdale in Indiana. As I was taking pictures of the falls with the covered bridge as the backdrop, there was a family in the vicinity that had been taking pictures as I arrived. As they were walking away, I heard the mom tell the young daughter, “That may be one for your 4-H fair project.” That statement took me back a lot of years as the first trip I remember to Cataract Falls, I was taking photos as a 10 – 12 year-old hoping to use them on my 4-H fair project!
After my visit at the falls, I checked my GPS and found there were several covered bridges within a few miles of my route home so I took the short detours on some winding, dusty roads to photograph them as well. These bridges had the interesting names of “Rolling Stone”, “Pine Bluff”, and “Cornstalk”. Then after I had been to the covered bridges, my GPS took me down a road that was a dead end before it was supposed to have connected with the highway.
Life is like that sometimes, right? We are traveling along, perhaps even enjoying the journey, and all of a sudden we discover the directions we are following won’t get us to where we need to go. God’s desire is that we would follow His direction at all times but most of us have difficulty doing that as consistently as we should. We take direction from a lot of sources that sound like they know what they are talking about. We listen to “experts” who have all the credentials to make us believe they know best. We hear rumors, or read things on social media, that are repeated so often that we begin to believe them. And when we do these things without evaluating them according to the truth of God’s Word, it isn’t long before we are led down a dead end path. Fortunately, God has the ability, power, and desire to rescue us and redirect us onto the path that is good and leads to eternal life.
I pray that you and I would live with great hope because of the work of God in our lives. I pray that we would seek peace and prosperity for the places where we live. I pray that we would enjoy the surroundings that God has created and filled with beauty and wonder.