My husband and I recently returned from a wonderful, but all too short trip. We had the joy of visiting with our friends who now reside in Nassau, Bahamas. We were able to enjoy the company of a mutual set of friends, and soak up some sun (our peeling arms are proof of that), take in some of the local sites and flavours – just generally being tourists. We saw things that were breath-taking; both in their beauty, and in their alarming contrast to that beauty.
On the surface – we saw all that one sees in the tour books…but the experiences our friends introduced us to were so much richer and will hold a longer impact. We were taken to a community outreach center that the church our friend pastors supports. We saw the Nassau that will never show up in the list of places to be – door and plumbing-less houses, just in behind the opulence of the downtown area. We had the joy of watching a ball hockey league play – and for the first time, watch our host show off his skills…he’s really pretty good! This is a league of about 50 guys, most of whom are former Canadians, with a few NHL players thrown in. It was a great evening, but you’d never see that in the tour books either.
We were taken to a couple of stores that highlight the creative talents of folks that live on the Island, but are nowhere near the beaten path – and were able to bring home some Island beauty with us.
We were also privileged to attend a lecture sponsored by the Bahamas National Trust. In an amazing setting that was once private lands, we saw the most diverse collection of Palm trees, while hearing (and watching) the cartoonist who creates “Sherman’s Lagoon”. You see, the BNT is petitioning the government of The Bahamas to outlaw the harvesting of sharks. We learned that one of the reasons that the waters of the Bahamas are so pristine and clear – and of a shade of blue that can only be appreciated in person – are that way because the delicate eco-system is in almost perfect balance. Shark harvesting threatens to throw that out of whack, and then the water cease to be the wonder-filled place that it is.
Without our hosts letting us experience life on the Island the way they do…we would have only seen the “surface” of the island. The view that the tourist trade wants you to see. But there is so much more, and it’s full of life and wonder and celebration and learning.
If you are one who attends Worship at a local church, but never opens your Bible through the week, nor spends time with those you see on Sunday outside of that gathering – you really are seeing just the surface of what the Church is called to look like. If you want your children, spouse or loved ones to know Jesus, you need to take them deeper in the journey with you. You need to see beyond the hymns, lights and happy gathered people, and well adorned sanctuaries. Or, are you one who is curious about the man, Jesus, and what makes his followers different. Spend time with someone who’s life you admire – not because of who they are or their occupation, but because of how they approach life. Learn from them and ask questions – seek to see the world through their eyes – cause you can all most be sure they are looking through their Jesus’ eyes.
Faith is a journey that should get our hands dirty with living among His people. Reading and studying what God says to us in His Word fuels that. Helping those who are in need – be it money, food, prayer or just a hug. Being Jesus to others, is not easy, nor is it glamorous. But it is when we are truly in that space that we experience the richness, the wonder and learning of truly being a Jesus follower.
The Body of Christ is called to do life – together. And that’s with those who call us out of our comfort zone – who challenge us to be there with them. Read Act 2-4…does that look like a church you know? I haven’t found one yet…but here is the account of the early church, sharing, caring and prayer together. How awesome that must have been. Certainly not “touristy”, but real.
I loved our trip, and true to instruction, we “got sand in my shoes”, so we’ll be back. I saw colours that were more vibrant than anything I’ve ever experience, but I was enchanted by the Island because I saw it through the eyes of my friends who love it so much. May it be that way as others look to see this Christian life through us – may they be drawn in to Him, because of our love for Him.