As I woke up on my flight from Addis, this song kept running through my mind leading me to indulge in some silent praise, ‘I am forever grateful to you, i am forever grateful for the cross, i am forever grateful to you that you came, to seek and save the lost’. Over and over again I sang. Need one be deprived of the joy of worship simply because one finds oneself at high altitude? Most certainly not. Indeed biblically heights have a way of drawing our attention to the One who is the Most High, the One who is high and lifted up and who had a habit of meeting his people on mountains.
But the beauty of the new covenant is that there is no longer one single place where men go to meet with God. He has made the whole earth an altar, better still; He has made our hearts His altar and calls us the temple of the Holy Spirit. Consequently the only prerequisite for worship is that we be present and our hearts can and indeed must constantly be lifted up to worship the Lord in every place.
And what a joy to worship Him in different climes and amidst foreign peoples; while taking in the spectacular beauty of the vast New Zealand natural landscape and in Yoruba in Salvador da Bahia, home to the descendants of those carted off from my land centuries ago as slaves and who still maintain the Yoruba cosmogony whereby creation began with the Yoruba and the founder of the Yoruba nation literally descended from heaven (fear not, no syncretism here), What a joy to praise in teeming Shanghai , to prayer walk in sedate Stockholm.
And how thrilling to praise in Addis, to call on the name of the Lord under the skies of Ethiopia, one of the oldest Christian civilizations in the world. Thrilling indeed as you worship and imagine the centuries of praise, the sheer volume of prayers that have gone up over several centuries in the name of Jesus in this land; a land that has managed to hold on to a Christian faith long swept away in other ancient lands of Christianity in the north of Africa. And in each and every place, from Beijing to Bangkok, from Colombo to Christchurch, from Dakar to Dubai, it’s the same amazing sense of the presence, greatness, goodness and mercy of God.
Yes travel certainly sharpens your perception of the omnipresence of God. It is a pity that anyone would ever travel and leave their bibles at home, their prayer closets at home, and their songs of worship on the cd in the living room till they return to ‘normal’ life. They are missing the opportunity to celebrate Jesus in the downpour of Madrid and the greyness of Brussels, and to magnify Him at high altitude; the opportunity to truly begin to explore the ramifications of this simple fact, that the earth IS the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.
Travelling sharpens your perception of the omnipotence of God as you contemplate the variety of the works of His hand in nature, in people, in nations. All are under His gaze, and all that was made was made for Him, through Him and by Him. And this wondrous being that is God invites me into relationship. No wonder then that one cannot but declare that truly, I am forever grateful to Him, I am forever grateful for the cross, I am forever …. Indeed to travel is to worship.