1 Peter 1:1: Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia . . .
In November of 2014, I went on a spiritual retreat to Assumption Abbey in Ava, Missouri. After praying, studying, and journaling most of the day, I decided to take a prayer walk through the woods, and during the walk, I decided to take a different route back. As a result, I ended up deep in the woods and was starting to feel anxious. I began getting more and more concerned. Where was I?
No one knew I was in the woods. I was walking along leaf-littered, slippery, steep slopes, which dropped into a river. What if I fell? Who would find me? Should I turn back now? All these thoughts were coming in as I struggled to remain calm. Darkness was falling.
Then, in the distance I saw it. A light. A road. A road I knew. A path home. Hope.
Peter introduces his letter to God’s chosen people with a glimpse of the front porch light. Don’t miss it. It’s pretty subtle. Peter calls his audience “elect exiles.” What an ironic combination of words. As exiles, this world is not our home. We are destined to labor, experience opposition and oppression, feel unrest, and feel displaced. We will feel out of place in this world both spiritually and socially.
However, our sojourning is not without end. We are elect. We are destined for a glorious home that exists beyond the Sahara we currently traverse. Yes, we are currently aliens in this world, but our alienation is destined to end because we are the elect children of God with a secured future glory that this world cannot take away.
It’s interesting that Peter provides this perspective up front in his address. With our eyes on the end, the journey is less monstrous. This world isn’t the end, it’s a path, a stepping-stone, to something more. On one hand, this view helps us in dealing with the deserts. Though we thirst, we know that we will be satisfied. Though we hunger, we know we will be fed. Though alone and rejected, we will be received and accepted.
So: Sink in the arms of the Savior and find comfort and strength to pull through, knowing that the momentary afflictions of this world do not compare to the glory that awaits (Rom 8:18). And when, we receive blessing in this life and are tempted to push our tent pegs down too deep and pursue the comforts of this world, we are reminded that the oasis is ultimately a domicile mirage. This is not our ultimate home. We are not to be content here. The blessings found here pale in comparison to the prize that awaits.
So: be generous. Be open. Be willing. Be attentive. Be grateful. But never be settled. Put up tents not bricks. In all cases, press on. Press on with a determined, humble, and willing heart. This life is only a moment, and the prize is more than worth it.