Horizons are meant to beckon.
Distant mountain ranges call us to them. Along the way, we discover the rising plain, the hills and valleys, the rivers and streams that drain the land, the rows of trees on each bank of each stream to shelter, feed, and water the animals. A long journey toward a gleaming horizon is a voyage of discovery.
The Age of Discovery
As the Middle Ages were coming to end and a rebirth of culture was just beginning to burst upon Western Europe, advances in navigation, ship building and a hunger for new horizons created the Age of Discovery. The world was not newly round, but the awareness that the earth was a globe was new and it stirred the imaginations of explorers. Beginning in the 15th century Europeans explored Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the far Pacific islands. Western civilization divided into the New World and the Old World. Empires built on trade and Christian missions connected the most advanced nations of Europe with the most primitive peoples and lands of the world. This expansion continued well into the 18th century.
The Spiritual Horizon
The Christ-follower lives a life something like the Age of Discovery; we are on a journey of exploration. One of the most precious gifts the Lord grants us is a spiritual horizon, a distant destination.
This horizon calls to us.
- How far away is it?
- What lies just beyond it?
- What mysteries will we discover on the journey from where we are to that distant, enticing horizon?
A Moving Boundary
Of course, in this life we can never reach the horizon; it moves as we move and is stationary when we are still. The great poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson, wrote about this in his poem, Ulysses:
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
The shimmering horizon in the distance marks a boundary beyond which life is eternal, pain is forgotten forever, sadness is not even a memory, and joy is constant in the pleasure of God’s presence. The journey between this today and that tomorrow, is also a joyful one. While we retain our free will to walk away from God, abandoning His plan for our pilgrimage, if we stay on track, God has planned work after work, friend after friend, blessing after blessing, and joy after strengthening joy for us all the way there.
Sharpen your tools and do the work; there are things for you to discover.
- Exercise your mind; there are puzzles for you to solve.
- Strengthen your body; there are mountains to climb, deserts to cross, and deep forests to explore.
- Above all, sustain your spirit by constant contact with God’s Spirit; there are truths to discover in the Word of God that you have never imagined, truths that will set you free to explore the mysteries of life.
- Ask your deepest questions of the Spirit through the Word; there is much to discover there.
While horizons dutifully retreat before us as we move, the pursuit of them is our main business in this world. Tennyson advises us to never stop discovering:
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!
As tho’ to breathe were life, life piled on life…
The life of discovery is, indeed, “life piled on life.” For the Christ-follower it is “breath” and “life.” Open your mind, your heart, and your hands to those who share the pilgrimage with you. The ground is rising with every step. There will be new elevations and new vistas of wonder to greet your eyes. Heaven is on the horizon and the power of the Lord Jesus is with us today.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
… I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened…
Your statutes are forever right; give me understanding that I may live.
My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
…If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
Ephesians 2:10 10
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Lord Jesus, You are my guide. Point me to the correct horizon. Create in my heart a longing for Your will in my life. Save me from foolish pursuits that lead me nowhere and waste my time. Help me know that Sabbath rest from You is an essential part of a successful journey. Help me recognize the fellow adventurers You send my way. Let me be a help to them as I honor their voyage of discovery as just as important as mine. Thank You, Lord, that life is not random, that there is a mission, a horizon to pursue, a voyage of discovery for each of us. Help me honor those who have been long upon the road as well as those who are just starting out. May I be an encouragement and may I learn much from the companions You send my way. Amen.
I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go
Words: Mary Brown and Music: Carrie E. Rounsefell
1. It may not be on the mountain’s height,
Or over the stormy sea;
It may not be at the battle’s front
My Lord will have need of me.
But if by a still, small voice He calls
To paths I do not know,
I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in Thine,
“I’ll go where You want me to go.”
I’ll go where You want me to go, dear Lord,
Over mountain, or plain, or sea.
I’ll say what You want me to say, dear Lord.
I’ll be what You want me to be.
2. Perhaps today there are loving words
Which Jesus would have me speak;
There may be now, in the paths of sin,
Some wand’rer whom I should seek.
O Savior, if Thou wilt be my Guide,
Tho’ dark and rugged the way,
My voice shall echo the message sweet,
I’ll say what you want me to say.
3. There’s surely somewhere a lowly place
In earth’s harvest fields so wide
Where I may labor thro’ life’s short day
For Jesus, the Crucified;
So, trusting my all to Thy tender care,
And knowing Thou lovest me,
I’ll do Thy will with a heart sincere,
I’ll be what You want me to be.
© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved