Andrée Seu Peterson: Going home


MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Monday, September 2nd. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Blessings and grace in our lives come so routinely that sometimes we fail to pay attention. But WORLD Radio’s Andree Seu Peterson does pay attention. And she calls your attention to it in this piece from her book titled Won’t Let You Go Unless You Bless Me. 

ANDRÉE SEU PETERSON, COMMENTATOR: I went home recently and found out that everything you need to know about life can be learned on the stretch of road between Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, and Woonsocket, R.I.. This is scarcely strange since not only is life like a journey, with a beginning and end, but everything in creation is a metaphor in some way. 

For starters, Christians always travel in fundamentally hospitable terrain since we are always in our Father’s world. The trees that streak past my window are all His. (Narnia notwithstanding, none have gone over to the White Witch’s side.)

Moreover, I can look at the trees and say, “Ah, yes, I know what you are. There are men who can tell better than I about your phylogeny and photosynthesis and capillary action, but they have said nothing true about the tree until they know by Whom a tree comes. I, Christian traveler, know “treeness.”

On the New Jersey Turnpike I exceed the speed limit like everyone else. I, Christian traveler, want to justify myself—“I have to keep up with the flow”—but I feel discomfort, a fissure of reason and truth. And a suspicion that the undermining of one law tends, like a spreading ink blot, to the disdain for all law.

On the Cross Bronx Expressway, every speedometer, the righteous and the unrighteous, plunges to 5 mph—though I had timed this trip to avoid New York City rush hour. Anyone who believes a person’s private choices are his own business has never been part of a grounded caravan of a hundred cars with their destinies altered by a “private” choice about two miles up the road.

The cause becomes clear half an hour later: Bronco carcass in the passing lane, spun around like a tinker toy; another crumpled vehicle at some distance. Perhaps the Bronco was racing to a Rangers game; perhaps the other car was headed home on holiday, like me. Appointments never to be kept. 

Psalm 146: “On that very day his plans perish.” “The race is not to the swift…but time and chance happen to them all” (Ecclesiastes 9).

Near Darien, Connecticut, I stop for gas. A man pumps petrol next to me, and I note with interest that he is not sticking me up for my purse, though it is night, and he is large, and I’m alone with two sleeping kids—easy pickings. I meditate on “common grace” and how, although men are depraved, they are not absolutely depraved. The Spirit restrains the world from being as corrupt as it could logically be (2 Thessalonians 2:7).

When I arrive home—or is Pennsylvania home?—the lesson, alas, is the same I learned last year: all earthly homes produce as much longing as satisfaction, are but signposts and not the City itself. And I thank God,  both for the foretaste and the vague yearning that keeps me headed homeward, keeps my heart on pilgrimage. 

For WORLD Radio, I’m Andrée Seu Peterson.


(Photo/Creative Commons)

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