From the Pastor's Study
From the Pastor’s Study
July 26, 2023
We have arrived in Nobleford, Alberta and have begun the process of unpacking our boxes and making a new home. We left Blyth on July 7, spending a little time at a cottage, visiting family, and then travelling across the country. Since July 7 we have driven over 6500 kilometres. We enjoyed the beauty of Ontario from the Niagara Peninsula to the headwaters of the Saint Lawrence River, just past the east side of Lake Ontario. In our travels out west we endured the remoteness of the bush wilderness north of Lake Superior, happy to see the prairies that begin just east of Winnipeg. We spent a day and two nights in Winnipeg, visiting a couple of museums and enjoying the park that surrounds the junction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. Travelling further west, we spent last Sunday in a village in Saskatchewan, visiting family before making the final trek west and south to Nobleford. That final stretch took us through the desert-like conditions of south-central Alberta, after which we arrived in the area irrigated with snow-melt waters from the mountains. For a while it felt as if we could be back in Ontario, if we ignored the irrigation pivots found in almost every field. Wheat harvest is beginning, and the corn is fully in tassel.
We are thankful that we have been able to travel without troubles of any sort, save for weary minds and aching bodies. All went as well as we had hoped, and we praise God that we have arrived safely. The things I missed the most, however, were familiar faces. In fact, what I will remember about the entire journey were the conversations and fellowship I had with people I knew. On our first Sunday away from Blyth, we worshipped at the Christian Reformed Church in Frankford. I was hoping to spend a few moments talking to their pastor, who I know, but he was away on vacation. The pastor who led the service, however, had been a fellow student at seminary, and it was good to reconnect. The second Sunday we worshipped at my brother’s church, and I was able to reconnect with some people I had met a year ago when visiting there and for whom I had baled some hay. Seeing a familiar face after not having seen anyone I knew, save for Helen and Thomas, was a real joy.
Yesterday, when visiting a Mission Thrift Store in Lethbridge, I struck up a conversation with a man who had grown up in Ontario, in Jarvis, and he knew a number of people from Helen’s family. It was like being home again. And last night, a couple stopped by our home, and we discovered that she knew Helen’s siblings, having gone to high school with them. They also are connected to us through a couple of marriages. We’re not related, but we know the same people.
In all of this, I am struck by how important relationships are. Seeing the wonders of God’s creation is great, but having relationships with others is far more important. Without relationships, life reminds me of the empty ruggedness of Northern Ontario or the vast deserts of South-Central Alberta. They are nice to look at, but life does not receive its fullness from beautiful scenery. Relationships are what make life meaningful. During the days it took to travel 6500 km, it was the moments of conversation that made all the difference.
As I sit here at my computer in Southern Alberta, I can honestly say that what my time in Blyth full and meaningful were the relationships. I have found myself longing for the familiar faces of Blyth, and I have wished more than once that I could simply return to my life there. Perhaps I am a little homesick, not only for the beauty of Huron County but also and more so for the friendship and fellowship we had together. I miss that. If I were not convinced that God has called us to this place, I would wonder if moving here was a wise decision.
I have moved enough to know that as I become part of the community here, I will find fellowship and friendship again. This will become home to us much as Blyth was and is. Already we have felt welcomed here by members of the church.
There is one more thing I have (re)discovered in our travels and it is this: the most important thing we can have is a relationship with Jesus Christ. In fact, the deepest and best relationships I have had with people are those in which there is a common faith in Jesus. It is that one thing that makes our relationships truly meaningful. The best relationships I have had are those with fellow believers, and, I am sure, many of you have experienced the same.
Whether it be the man in the thrift store or the farmer in Saskatchewan or the colleague in Frankford of the members of the CRCs in Blyth and Nobleford, what draws us together is the fact that we belong to the family of God through Jesus Christ. I am sure that if any of you happen to visit us here in Nobleford (and you are all invited to stop over because we have lots of space), and if you happen to meet some of the brothers and sisters here, you will also feel the fellowship that comes from belonging to Jesus as, I am sure, the people from here will experience when they meet you.
Faith in Jesus Christ brings us together and holds us together. Having a relationship with Jesus develops and strengthens all other relationships, relationships that last far beyond a few years to eternity. I look forward to that as well – eternal life in the new creation where we can travel around the world, appreciate the beauty of God’s world and enjoy close fellowship with everyone we meet. I look forward to that day when a drive across the country is filled with good conversation, meaningful relationships and a deep sense of fellowship even while we enjoy the beauty of God’s creation.
As a final word, I would like to say thank you to all those who shared their lives with me, with whom I had deep and meaningful relationships. Your presence in my life has made my life fuller, for that I am thankful, both to you, and even more so to God who brought us together.