Called to be liberating and portable

It was the trip of a lifetime. Something I didn’t even consider putting on my bucket list because it was so big. But God is generous, and so is the DeVries Foundation. Many Canadian CRC pastors and spouses have been blessed by this foundation to visit Egypt, Jordan and Israel with an organization called Under The Fig Tree (underthefigtree.org). My husband and I and all pastors of Classis Chatham were invited this year. Our study tour was led by Rev. George DeJong, who currently serves as Teaching Pastor at Holland Heights CRC in Holland, Michigan. He is also Executive Director of Under the Fig Tree Ministries.

Rabbi George told us “You are an investment,” which can be an intimidating statement to make until one thinks about it. Every human being is an investment. Created by our Father who wants his children who praise him. Not just us, but you too.

So how did this “investment” grow during this study tour experience?

On day one already I was blown away by something I should have known, namely, that when Abram and Sarai went to Egypt to escape the famine in Canaan land they could very easily have walked in the shadows of the pyramids we can see today. Those pyramids were already 1,000 years old in Abram’s time. Egypt was a nation of influence in the ancient world. In a world with very little fresh water the Nile was a great source of wealth and strength and stability. Magnificent engineering projects, art and collections of wealth were made for the sake of the pharaohs and the gods of the time.

As we moved on to Jordan and Petra we saw the meeting of ancient cultures of human sacrifice, Egyptian art and the powerful structures of ancient Rome. Roman stones are still all over the Middle East, 2,000 years after those construction projects started. Much of the construction was ordered to glorify the Herods and Ceasars of the time. How much of what we build will still be here 2,000 years from now?

Something to celebrate
But what slowly became clear in a new way for this “investment” was that, in the face of these great earthly powers, the God of Abraham and of the Israelites had a completely different message. The message was upside-down from the culture around them. The ordinary little people, the wandering Arameans, the baby in a basket on the Nile, the Moabite woman following her mother-in-law, are all small and weak, but all are incredibly valuable to God. Just like he says in Psalm 139. Instead of suffering lives of slavery, we little people are called to love God our Creator and Saviour, and to love others as well. Instead of working on our knees for powerful men, we are invited by our God to know we are his children, gifted to live lives of praise.

Instead of being limited by rocks and bricks, pyramids and coliseums, our God has a book, and he lives in hearts and minds. His yoke is easy and his burden is light. He simply asks us to use the gifts he’s given us – use them for his praise so we can enjoy him forever. Instead of following stars, heroes and billionaires of our culture, we’re asked to make each home and table a place where we celebrate our status as God’s children. We’re invited to do what we are good at and use our skills to glorify God. Revolutionary. Liberating. Totally portable. For everyone. More eye-popping than King Tut’s mask, or the tombs of Petra.
 

  • Grace has a heart for social justice , and that is a passion that can keep a person active and involved until this life is over.

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