In the infinite wisdom of the Lord of all the earth, each event falls with exact precision into its proper place in the unfolding of His divine plan. Nothing, however small, however strange, occurs without His ordering or without its particular fitness for its place in the working out of His purpose; and the end of all shall be the manifestation of His glory, and the accumulation of His praise. – B.B. Warfield
Mist lay upon a well-worn path lined by walls of mossy stone. They had been piled there centuries prior to keep the sheep in. As we walked this path and approached a small village in the north of Spain, I could hardly have imagined what God’s providence had in store for the journey ahead.
It was 2017 and I was co-leading a spring break hiking trip for students abroad in Europe, a pilgrimage on the famous Camino de Santiago, the Way of St. James. I had never previously met in-person my colleague in InterVarsity who was co-leading the trip with me, but when he asked if I wanted to arrive early and hike 60 additional miles in 3 days before we met the students for the 60 miles of the planned 8-day hike, I ascertained that our hearts were cut of similar cloth and we would get along just fine.
The trip’s goals included student discipleship and helping them process their experiences in post-Christian Europe in order to challenge, encourage, and strengthen them in their faith. While we observed the 2000 year old Roman wall, roads, and aqueduct in Lugo, admired the beauty of the cathedral within those walls (commissioned in 1129 and completed in 1273), and walked upon paths formerly trod by the feet of people like St. Francis of Assisi, we challenged students to consider things that last. We pondered God’s Word, his handiwork, and ideas or philosophies which, since they accord with Truth, have withstood the test of time. Our clarion call was to remember the ancient ways and walk in them, rebuild the ancient ruins in a world that has sought to deconstruct and destroy, choose to create, redeem, and build things that will endure time and passing fashion because they accord with truth, goodness, beauty–ultimately with reality–and to do all this to the glory of God. A cathedral may take 150 years to build, but it lasts millenia. Meaningful spiritual investment may take years (or miles walked together) but the impacts ripple out and have eternal consequences.
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