Reflections from Europe: A Life of More

Reflections from Europe: A Life of More



Monday April 20, 2020
 
These Coronavirus-pandemic days of early 2020 have us reading horrific news from all over the world - but especially how the Covid-19 virus has been infecting and decimating several European countries like Italy, Spain, France and the UK, and the United States of America, to name the worst-hit nations of them all.
 
As I think about these European countries -- so old, so historic, so cultural, so beautiful, filled with so many lovely places to see, and so many wonderful things to do, and so many amazing people to befriend -- I think back to my husband's and my 25th-wedding-anniversary trip that we took to Europe almost 4 years ago now. How we loved every single minute of it! How we delighted in everything we saw and did, in everyone we met and spent time with, in everything we learned from our five weeks there!
 
And so, in memory of our such wonderful days in Europe back then, I have decided to re-post a few reflections I wrote when we got back home to Colombia. Thoughts and meditations on places we saw and things we did, and what they taught me about life and people and God... because they are just as relevant today, in our world steeped in a mind-boggling health and economic crisis, as they were a few years back when life was "normal".
 
Today, from the Reflections For Living Treasure Chest:
 
Reflections From Europe: A Life of More
 
(initially written back in 2016 -
but unbelievably,
based on the very same Bible verse I wrote about
for Resurrection Sunday just a week ago!)
 
My husband and I just got back from a 5-week trek through Europe to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary last year.
 
We visited dear friends in Spain and France and Germany. We did a lovely Danube River cruise through Hungary, Slovakia, Austria and Germany and spent a few days in beautiful Prague in the Czech Republic together with a couple we love. And we topped it all off with precious time with my extended family in Austria.
 
Our trip was amazing! Simply and utterly amazing! Five weeks of breath-taking beauty and delight and thankfulness!
 
Now I am back at home in Colombia in my office in front of my computer, and my mind and heart are a jumble of wonderful memories, thoughts and feelings that will no doubt come out in my reflections in the next weeks and months.
 
So do stay tuned!
 
This morning, as I look back on our time in Europe, having seen so many exquisitely beautiful cathedrals and churches filled with so many tourists but so few true believers, having talked with people from different countries and having heard about their oftentimes empty, confused, disillusioned and frustrated lives, the words from my quiet time with God a few weeks ago take on new meaning:
 
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade…
In all this you greatly rejoice,
though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—
of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—
may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Though you have not seen him, you love him;
and even though you do not see him now,
you believe in him
and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,
for you are receiving the end result of your faith,
the salvation of your souls.”
(1 Peter 1:3-9)
 
Yes! God, in His great mercy, has given ME new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade! All through Europe, we saw one-time beautiful churches that over the ages crumbled to ruins – one-time magnificent cathedrals that were damaged and destroyed in wars or natural disasters. Praise God that MY hope and inheritance in Jesus Christ are imperishable and everlasting!
 
Yes! MY faith, proven and genuine, is of greater worth than gold – and how I felt it to be so there in Europe! Everywhere around us we saw and talked to people with so much money, but little or no faith – so much earthly “gold”, but so little heavenly “gold”. One woman we met on the river cruise, someone who according to her has travelled all over the world, when one lunchtime I asked her how her morning had gone, simply shrugged her shoulders, frowned and said, “Like every other morning in my life: boring.” I looked at her in disbelief: boring? on a river cruise passing through lovely Germany? how could anyone be bored? in fact, how can anyone live a life that is always boring? Unless that life is always empty of meaning and does not possess the true “gold” of a genuine and living faith. A man we met on the cruise, someone who showed real interest in us and our life-work during the week we were together on the ship, when he said “goodbye” to us said: “Thank you for inspiring me to do more with my life than just be retired and travel – thank you!” We thank God that our life-testimonies gave witness to something genuine and something worthwhile beyond all the “gold” in this world.
 
And yes! I have not seen Jesus yet face to face – but I believe in Him, love Him, and everyday am filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy in Him! Of course, it was amazing to be travelling through Europe, seeing and experiencing something new and beautiful every single day – and of course, we rejoiced and delighted in everything. But only because our greater and deeper joy come from our faith in Jesus Christ, and the salvation that He has provided for our souls. Without that heavenly inheritance, all earthly pleasures are just as the woman on the cruise-ship said: boring and empty.
 
And so, I pray for the faithless, hopeless and joyless people we met from all over the world over in Europe. Because it is not just Europe that is empty – humankind everywhere where Jesus is not, is empty and searching and longing for more.
 
And I praise God that He, in His great mercy, has shown me and offered me a life of “more”: more faith, more hope, more joy than I could ever have known without Him!
 
Dear friend: how about you? Do you know this “new birth”? Do you have this “living hope” and this “inexpressible and glorious joy” that the apostle Peter speaks of in his epistle? Do you have this genuine and of-greater-worth-than-gold faith that he writes about?
 
If not, ask God to give them to you. Without a doubt, He will – because He is a God of great mercy.
 
If so, praise and glorify and honor Him for these merciful gifts, because their end result in your life is the salvation of your soul.


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