Perjantai 24.5.2019
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Maa, kohota Herralle riemuhuuto! Iloitkaa ja riemuitkaa, laulakaa ja soittakaa! Ylistäkää Herraa harpun sävelin, soittakaa ja laulakaa! Ps. 98:4-5

Blog: At a lonely guarding post

in English 16.6.2018 06:49 | Päivämies-verkkolehti
In September 2016 I put together my bike at Prague Airport in the Czech Republic, fixed the panniers, and hopped on the saddle. I had no idea where that small action would ultimately take me. I am writing this on a bench in a hostel in Almaty, Kazakhstan, wondering how on earth I ended up here. 
It all began when I admitted to myself that I had made a mistake in choosing my field of study. I gave up my student status and began to wonder how I could spend the time before the next annual entrance examinations. I wanted travel and adventure. I decided to bike around Europe for six months.

After two months on the road I met a British biker who was heading to New Zealand. I thought I might just as well go along and so changed my original plan.

Following that decision I have been traveling for more than a year through Europe, Turkey, The Caucasus, Iran, and Central Asia. I have spent my days on the saddle of my bike, plodding along slowly but steadily. I have slept in hostels, homes, churches, mosques, empty buildings, bike shops, and often in a tent or under the starry sky. I have covered about 18 000 kilometers in 23 countries.  

I have often asked myself what on earth I have undertaken to do. I had not planned to make such a long trip. I did not have the money for this trip, my first biking trip ever, and when I left, I did not even know how to fix a flat tyre.

"You are brave", many people have said to me. I have tried to explain that I have not done anything that anybody else could not do. "But you are brave to have started", they have usually responded. It has been difficult to make them understand that I would never have started if I had planned all along to go on such a long trip. I just stumbled on this opportunity by accident. I have often thought that if I really were brave, I would pack my stuff and go home.

I would never have believed that I could accomplish my unrealistic idea of a long biking trip. I have prayed that everything would go well and I could continue my journey. And things have gone well in a most miraculous way. God has blessed me. I no longer need to worry so much about visas or money. 

I have found that being alone away from home for a long time is like a journey in a wilderness where springs of water are few and far between. It is not possible to meet other believers often, and it is even more important to watch than at home. This is a lonely guarding post. When you are away from other believers for a long time, your own views as a believer may grow dim. The borderline between right and wrong may begin to shift.

I have had this experience. When I had been away from home for more than a year, I began to lose my humble faith. I began to find the gifts and blessings of God to be my own merits. I wanted to believe, but the significance of faith had become more obscure, and I did not always have the strength to put sin away. With no other believers around, I had no-one against whom to mirror my own values. I did not listen to services often and did not seem to mind. I had sinned but did not have the strength to put sin away. I walked with one foot in God’s kingdom and the other in the world. I spoke about this to my friends and asked to have my sins forgiven.  

I fold my hands in prayer. I have been given so much, and I have been wondering if it is even right to ask for more. But there is one thing I feel I can freely ask: Dear God, give me guardian angels to protect me on the way, give me a watchful mind and enough courage to go home if I need to do that to keep my faith.

God has blessed me with two visits to Finland. Without them I might no longer be a believer. I have found that believing abroad is not easier or more difficult than believing at home, but it is different. Temptations are different, and one is usually alone with them. That is why it is so important to keep contact with other believers. I am a master at forgetting about contacts. Do you have family or friends abroad? Send them a message today. Ask them if they have had the strength to endeavor on the way.

Text: Markus Kauhanen
Translation: Sirkka-Liisa Leinonen

You will find the original Finnish blog post here.
 

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