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Driven out of paradise by You and exiled in a distant land, I cannot return to myself unless You, O Lord, come to me me in my wanderings.

St. Augustine, Commentary on Psalm 24.5

When the devil tempts me, my heart is comforted and my faith is strengthened, because I know Him who for my sake has overcome the devil, and that He comes to me to be my help and my comfort.

Martin Luther, Sermon on Hebrews IV.15

Without the Way, there is no going; Without the Truth, there is no knowing; Without the Life, there is no living.

Thomas á Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

Look through the lives of the brightest and best of God's servants, whether in the Bible or not. See what is written of Moses and David, Daniel and Paul. Mark what is recorded of Luther and Bradford, the Reformers. Observe what is related of the private devotions of Whitefield, and Cecil, and Venn, and Birkersteth, and M'Cheyne. Tell me of one of all the goodly fellowship of saints and martyrs, who has not had this mark most prominently, - he was a man of prayer.

J. C. Ryle, Practical Religion, on prayer.

The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."

So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. 5 He took his wife Sara, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there. Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. The LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring I will give this land." So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.

Genesis 12:1-6 NIV

Whether you are a Christian believer or a raving atheist, you have to admit that no other journey in human history has made such an impact on the world as that of Abram who, after changing his name to Abraham, became the father of the Jewish people. This is also the first great journey of recorded history. No other travel story predates it. Until the rise of Biblical criticism in the nineteenth century no one doubted the historicity of the story. Then, after the critics got to work, very few scholars believed it at all. Thus the story of Abraham was dismissed as a "myth" alongside other "fanciful legends" like the story of King Arthur and Robin Hood which until a few years ago were also totally dismissed as tall tales.

One of the main reasons for dismissing the story of Abraham was the claim the camels were not domesticated at the time when Abraham lived around 2000 BC. Therefore, reference to them in the text must be anachronisms. If true this would indeed have destroyed any claim that the story of Abraham was historical. Now we know that camels were domesticated for at least 500 years before the earliest possible date of the Abraham story. In other words from as early as 2500 BC. Therefore, there are no longer archeological grounds for dismissing this fascinating story that has shaped the history of the world in untold ways.

With the story of Abraham the whole drama of the Bible as the story of human redemption begins. Everything that goes before it is a prologue that sets the scene to God's call to Abraham, his obedience, and great example of faith. From Abraham the story develops into the epic of Israel, on to Moses, the Exodus, more journeys, the occupation of Palestine, and eventually to the establishment of the Kingdom of Israel. Centuries pass before the birth of Jesus whose life is also structured around a series of journeys that end with his death and resurrection. But, this is not the end. Another series of journeys begin with the conversion of St. Paul. These travels lead to the planting of the Christian Church in Europe.

Thus the whole story of redemption is told as a travel narrative in relation to the journeys of men like Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Saul, David, Jesus and Paul. And for most people that's where it all ends, with the presumed martyrdom of Paul in Rome around 66 AD.

But, of course that's not the end. It was only the beginning the story of the Christian church. Unfortunately, most Christians know very little about what happened after the death of Paul and are woefully ignorant of the exciting drama of Church history. Yet the story of the Christ's Church stretches from the first century until today as a truly never-ending story of faith, endurance, courage and hope. As you begin your journey through Europe you will encounter many memorials to the past and the lives of both great Christian leaders and ordinary believers that were made extraordinary by the circumstances in which they found themselves. These tales prompt questions and bring to memory things long forgotten: the great acts of God and the works of His people throughout history. These stories create a sense of awe, wonder, and an awareness the God's work did not end in the first century but continues on until today. It is an inspiring story that will strengthen your faith by creating an awareness of the community of saints.

Day: 1- 2

These readings are based on a) John E. Rotelle O.S.A's., excellent Augustine Day by Day, (New York, Catholic Book Publishing, 1986). Permission to use these passages has been sought, although I believe what I have used falls within a "fair use" policy; b) Various works of Martin Luther (1483-1546); c) Thomas á Kempis (1380-1471); d) Anglican Bishop J. C. Ryle's (1816-1900) Holiness (18??) or Practical Religion (1900); e) Zondervan's New International Version of the Bible.

Copyright Irving Hexham 2001