Lured by the promise of paradise on earth, thousands of families loaded small wagons and headed into the great unknown. They counted the farewells to family, friends and most of their worldly goods a small price to pay for the promise of the good life painted by the tales of politicians, wagon train masters and printed advertisements. Living life as sojourners for a short time would surely reward them with health, riches and happiness.
Our studies of the Oregon Trail and Westward Migration this week brought me face to face with a reality that repeats itself over and over in tales historical and fictitious: Humans long for home. And home is beautiful, plentiful and satisfying. The extremes we will endure for this promise astound me. While at the same time they clarify the knowledge that deep within our nature, all humans know that we were created for something else. It’s that remnant of the Imago Dei. We know were meant to live in a garden without thorns in our fields or our relationships.
As believers the challenge is for us to focus on the example of Abraham, to sojourn as an alien and foreigner in this world while looking forward with joy to a city that has foundations whose designer and builder is God. To fix our eyes on the One who is the way, the truth and the life; the One who is preparing a place for us.
These studies humbled me this week. The sacrifices of emigrant families for the promise of a good life now make my sacrifices for the sake of eternity look paltry. At least one in every ten emigrants died on the journey, never reaching their reward. Yet, I know that nothing will separate me from the love of Christ Jesus my Lord. I know that my reward is sure. I know that He who began this good work in me will carry it to completion. I know that when I am home there will no sickness, no dying, no poverty, no tears.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV