Jesus - "I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of." (John 10:10 - The Message)
This is my "Great Adventure" wrap-up. I'm sure I'll talk about it some more, and I'm sure I'll find some excuse to throw in more of these amazing photographs - but today's post officially brings this "travelogue" series to a close.
If you've been visiting this blog because of our Epic Journey, then "Thanks for stopping by." But don't leave just yet, I believe it will be worth your while to keep coming back. Here's why:
1. The essential content is consistent; I write about "The Life-Charged Life" and the life abundant is an ongoing experience no matter where I am. Bottom line, you don't have to travel somewhere exotic to live like you mean it.
2. I will continue to feature good photography and a faith-based perspective. Read this blog as your daily devotion if you like.
CAMEL as METAPHOR: I've opened with two camel pics (right and above) because they capture a lot of why this Great Adventure turned out to be so epic. I'm laughing for a couple of reasons. First, the experience was pure fun. Then, I was totally aware that I had very little control over what was going to happen. I was, to employ an over-used and typically misused cliché, one hundred percent "In The Moment."
When you begin to climb onto a camel and your Bedouin hits the "start" button early you know immediately this is no Disney Ride. Lesson # 1 from Derek and Rebekah's Epic Adventure, then, is... Stop trying to over-civilize your life.
SHARE EVERYTHING: Originally, this was to be Rebekah's solo study trip; continuing education courtesy of our generous church. But I am so glad we made the effort to pull together the resources necessary for me to tag along. Fact is, everything we're involved with becomes that much more meaningful when we are connected. Dreaming together is an important part of any relationship... but actually following through as a couple takes a marriage partnership to the next level.
Simply put, this adventure has been great for an already great marriage! Lesson # 2: Be serious about having fun together!
LEARN: Rebekah and I may be in our mid-fifties, but we are still committed to a continuing, life-long, education. There's television, there's the Internet, there's reading, there are great movies, there are live performances and educational seminars, and so much more... and THEN THERE IS TRAVEL.
Travel is the key to the world, and there is only so much we can learn from our armchair at home. Travel forces us to deal with the fact that diversity is more than a politically correct ideal; diversity is The World, a world where the bubble we live in simply does not exist. Yesterday (Friday Feb 3rd) a tour bus on the road to St. Catherine's Monastery was stopped by Bedouins and some Americans were kidnapped....
... Rebekah and I were on that exact stretch of road just a couple of weeks ago. There's good reason I threw 55-year-old caution to the wind, and followed without a second thought when our Bedouin guide (Yusef) suddenly decided our friend Lonita needed a one-on-one detour down a precipitous "short-cut" as we descended Mount Sinai. Lesson #3: The World is Bigger than America!
COMPASSION: I'll be honest about what I do when one more "Save the Children" commercial interrupts my favorite show on television. I thank the technology geeks for DVR and skip on ahead.
But it's a different story when you witness a child playing in filth in the middle of garbage piled high against his home - and when you can smell as well as see as well as hear the misery of systemic decay. That's when sentiment moves through pity and into compassion.
I may carry a passport that says "United States of America," but I am a Citizen of the World. And so are you. I couldn't begin to understand what's going on in Egypt today if we hadn't stood at the end of Tehir Square in Cairo and looked into the burned-out shell of Mubarak's headquarters; or driven through neighborhoods teeming with desperate people and persistent squalor; or climbed the side of The Great Pyramid, and listened to it whisper to me: "These people know they could be great again and the tension between that knowledge and the reality of their situation will not... cannot be contained much longer...."
Lesson #4: This world is populated with real people, and God loves them just like he loves us.
PURPOSE and PROMISE: So what? So was this trip an extravagantly expensive carnival ride... or was it an opportunity for me to grow significantly as a human being and in my understanding of what it means to deliberately engage "The Life-Charged Life?"
Most definitely this experience has been - and is - a monumental opportunity. The more important question has to do with what is it that I'm going to do with this opportunity now that I'm "back to normal?"
This series of travel posts has helped. I've debriefed and processed and organized my thoughts and emotions. (If you're new to this blog you can scroll back to January 16 to catch up on the entire journey.)
But the real test is today, and every "today" that I encounter. And it's always going to be a choice (it is for us all). And the choice is to invite God to use me, to use my experiences, and to equip me to live life out loud, a story that "Tells the truth about the Good News of Jesus, simply by being."
Lesson # 5: "We have been blessed in order to be a blessing."
I am so g