A Caribbean Journey: Traveling with a Book
The world is a beautiful place.
My wife and I have just returned from a wonderful week through the Caribbean. Augustine once said, “The world is a book. Those who do not travel read only a page.” We added some delightful pages over the last few days. Three special stops we made among others were in Barbados, Martinique, and Grenada. How splendid are these islands!
Two of my favorite occupations came together on this trip. I love Caribbean hot sauce and I love the beautiful game of cricket. During the cruise I was able to stay tuned in to several matches going on around the globe. Once upon a time I dreamed of playing cricket for India, but at the level of play today, I would not have qualified to even try to qualify. The level of excellence, like most sports, has skyrocketed. Even watching some of the Australian Open Tennis finals with Roger Federer was a tribute to what it takes to be a champion. I’m glad I didn’t head that route. They are geniuses at what they do. I watch them for the love of the game.
But along with sports, I have loved the culinary world. And there’s no hot sauce like that in the Caribbean. They use a very unique hot pepper called “Scotch bonnet.” That flavor beats all other hot sauces, and I have just enjoyed that taste again. My family still thinks that after I retire, I will open a small restaurant somewhere. If I ever did, it would be for great conversations around a great meal.
But during this trip the highlight was reading Eric Metaxas’s Martin Luther, a masterpiece of research and writing. It is true scholarship at its inspiring best. If you haven’t read it, get the book and take a few days to dig into it. Nobody tells the stories of historical figures that have embodied the Christian faith better then Metaxas. The Bible does not hide the scars of its heroes, and a real portrait sketched today shows the same blend of weakness and strength. Basically these powerful figures embody human and divine interaction. Martin Luther is one such giant in the landscape of history rightly defined as an accretion of innumerable biographies.
Luther’s incredible dedication to the Lord and his passion to get God’s word into the hands of the people changed history. His love for the word is a powerful example to all of us. His consciousness of sin and deep desire to read what the Scriptures say about life, reality, and salvation is almost Paul-like in conviction. It is little wonder that this was his focus in his doctoral studies and that the book of Romans changed everything for him.
One of those that made it possible for Luther to do what he did was the dean of the theology department at the University of Wittenberg, Johannes Von Staupitz. Here is one paragraph from Metaxas as he tells of Luther’s love for the word and how Staupitz took note of that rather rare affection:
"Staupitz saw that for Luther the Bible was not a book like Aristotle’s Ethics or like a volume of Livy or Cicero. It was entirely apart from every book in the world. It was the living Word of God and therefore could not be read like any other book. It was inspired by God, and when one reads it, one must do so in such a way—with such closeness and intimacy—that one fully intended to feel and smell the breezes of heaven. If one missed this aspect, one missed the whole point. For Staupitz, to read any other book like this was to be a fool, but to read the Bible in any other way than this was to be twice the fool. So he obviously hoped that he might persuade Luther to help him in this." (p. 68)
That is an amazing tribute to one who changed our world.
As enjoyable as the cuisine and the game of cricket can be to me, I had to pause and realize what is meant by the Lord’s reminder that man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
So I return, energized in both body and soul. Thank you to all that pray for us. The year 2018 has been one of the best starts we have ever had for your encouragement, support, and for the team’s impact globally. Even as we were about to begin our journey in Barbados, one of the ladies at the desk came over to Margie and me and said with tears in her eyes, “I cannot thank you enough for what your ministry has done for me.” That is the best spice life can add to any journey.
On behalf of the whole team, a heartfelt Thank you. The Word is what we preach; that very Word we will preach to a world that needs answers. That is the Book of Books that opens the heavens to our material world. The world will only realize its full beauty when it has seen the Son rise in every heart across this globe.
A spectacular sunset as we sailed from Grenada.