Reflections from a trip away

Church bulletin:

For numerous reasons including Covid and changes to our family situation, I haven’t been away with ministry for a while. At the beginning of March, I was able to take the opportunity to speak at a combined church camp just outside Christchurch, NZ. Here are five reflections on my time away.

The mystery of providence. Everything was in place and I was due to fly out early on Thursday morning. We had a meeting at the respite centre on Monday to finalise arrangements for Lewis (disabled son) when they told us one of the clients had Covid. By Wednesday morning it had spread and Lewis was unable to stay at the centre. Kylie had less than a day to make alternate arrangements. People imagine it is as easy as picking up a phone – it isn’t. By God’s grace however, she was able to quickly organise the necessary help. Providence changes in the blink of an eye and we must trust in God’s wisdom though we don’t always understand it.

The wonders of technology. Halfway across the Tasman Sea I looked at the flight information in front of me. We were 11,000m in the air, travelling at 1,000km per hour, minus 60 outside. It is simply astonishing how far technology has advanced in such a short period – the Wright brothers made the first sustained flight of 6km 120 years ago. Today, NZ is a stone’s throw away. There are downsides to modern life, but let us not forget the upsides – travel, health care, communication, education, comforts, and conveniences. There is much to be thankful for.

The joy of fellowship. I was due to stay with the Harrod’s for a couple of nights in Christchurch, but again, providence intervened. Instead, I went to the home of Les. Les is 80 and lost his wife to cancer when she was just 48. He finds comfort knowing she is with the Lord. We had a delightful time discussing scripture, theology, art, sport, current affairs, the list could go on. I attended a Bible study before the camp where we looked at the thinking of CS Lewis. It was a profitable evening. I spent time with the Harrod’s, their children and grandchildren. The interaction was warm and relaxing. The people at the camp were of the same spirit – friendly and engaging. There was much fun with Aussie / Kiwi banter. The fellowship of the saints is indeed sweet. For me, it was the highlight.

The glory of creation. After the camp on Sunday afternoon Rob and Alison took me for a drive around the base of the Canterbury Alps. The scenery is absolutely stunning. We pulled over a couple of times to take photos. A camera provides memories, but it cannot capture the scope and the grandeur and the atmosphere of being there. This was my third trip to NZ and each time I have been struck by the outstanding beauty of the two islands. One day I hope to return and see a lot more. Isaiah 55:12, “For you shall go out with joy, And be led out with peace; The mountains and the hills Shall break forth into singing before you, And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”

The blessing of home. It’s great to get away and see other places, meet new people, and catch up with old friends. But there is something about coming home – family, familiarity, grounding. I am thankful to God for my trip to NZ but I was glad to put my bags down in the dining room and be back where I belong. Lewis smiled, “I missed you dad”. Enough said.