Because place matters

Cruise liner in Plymouth Sound with Mount Edgu...

Cruise liner in Plymouth Sound with Mount Edgumbe in foreground (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently returned from my first ocean cruise, which happened to fall very close to my 60th birthday. I didn’t plan for the two events to coincide, but it was fun that it turned out that way, and it certainly added a deeper dimension to my vacation.

On the cruise I read a book that is designed to add a deeper dimension to the daily journey; it is called A Traveler’s Guide to the Kingdom: Journeying through the Christian Life, by James Emery White. Dr White’s book takes us to nine locations around the world, but it is not a typical travelogue. This book shares Dr White’s personal journey to these varied sites, and it also includes a series of reflections on how these places have helped him to face some of the challenges of living a Christian life in the 21st century.

Of the nine locations written about, my favorite was St. Catherine’s Monastery at Mt Sinai in Egypt. It is the oldest location described, and thus has the greatest sense of history about it, for me. After all, is this not the very area where Moses first heard God speak from the burning bush? (I laughed out loud at the description of a fire extinguisher located at the site) While sharing the history of this famous and holy place, Dr White also reminds us in this chapter that one of the greatest longings of believers is to hear from God, and he poses the question, “ How does this conversation play out in real life?”   I like  Dr White’s ‘pretense-free’ style of writing. Here’s an example of it at the close of Chapter 3, St Catherine’s Monastery. After offering examples,suggestions and disciplines for hearing from God, Dr White says this:

“Make sure you are open to whatever God says. That you are ready to receive his word to your life, whether you like it or not. Otherwise, why bother? It’s just a game. And God will speak to you. He will tell you things to start, things to stop. He’ll prompt you to sacrifice, and even do things that look foolish in the eyes of the world. He’ll push the frontiers of faith, and challenge the most rooted of sins.”

I enjoyed reading Traveler’s Guide to the Kingdom: Journeying through the Christian Life.   It not only presented a variety of travel destinations that are worth considering, but it brought a new awareness to the fact that, as believers, we are on a spiritual journey every day of our life – one that deserves our whole-hearted attention.

Full disclosure: I asked for the opportunity to review this book, and was sent a copy of the book free of charge for that purpose. I was not compensated for my review. Although I received the book free of charge, I was under no obligation to write a favorable review. If I gave it a good review it’s because I think it’s a good book.