Beyond here be angels!
At the edge of the map as they reached the point of known territory medieval cartographers wrote the words ‘beyond here be dragons’. It was a phrase used to denote dangerous or unexplored lands and seas, and its effect was to ward off travellers and seafarers from the unknown.
Every journey has its own ‘at world’s end’ where the next step – put simply – is into the unknown. No matter which way you slice it the journey of life whether spiritual or physical has a degree of uncertainty and insecurity about it. In life there are times we look down at our maps to see the words that we don’t really want to see. If you are anything like me then you’ll know we like being in charge of our own destinies. We want the questions answered and the route plotted out. However, no matter what stage in our journey with Christ, life has a tendency of throwing the unexpected at us, and sometimes it can all feel a bit like the words beyond here be dragons.
When Jesus called his first disciples they didn’t have any idea what the future looked like. The truth is, if Jesus had told them what laid in wait around the corner they may never have followed him - here lies the level of trust required to follow Jesus.
Following Jesus is not an easy road, it is an unfamiliar path and full of risk, but we do not walk this path alone.
Before Jesus healed the blind man at Bethsaida he led him out of the village by the hand. If you’ve ever led a blind person or partially sighted person, instinctively you know to stand by the person’s side and gently guide them by the arm. Jesus doesn’t do this; instead he leads the man by the hand (Mark 8:22-25). Jesus’ way is risky and unsettling, yet he is always with us and his hand will guide us.
Jesus knows that the unknown can be a frightening place, but time and again he encourages us with the same words: ‘Do not be afraid’ or ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled’. Indeed, the bible says how God repeatedly sent angels, messengers and co-workers to people who feared the path ahead. Moses, Abraham, Jacob, Elijah, Mary and Joseph to name but a few. God’s word for them was one of assurance and peace. So maybe the words on the edge of the map shouldn’t read beyond here be dragons, but instead read beyond here be angels!
As All Saints begins this new chapter there are many unknowns and it’s difficult to know what the future holds for us, but with Jesus as our companion and the Spirit as our guide I am confident that we will know the blessing of God.
May God bless your journey and may you know that he is with you always. Jeremy.
A collection of thoughts and reflections from the people of All Saints.