Upon completion of my undergraduate studies at Lipscomb University, I had the opportunity to work in two-year missions internship in Gympie, Queensland, Australia. Those years provided invaluable “on-the-job” ministry training that greatly supplemented the academic instruction I had received. Though my primary purpose for being there was the work of the kingdom of God, it also fulfilled a childhood dream of traveling Down Under. I had begun to read about Australia when I was ten years old, and I became fascinated with its landscape and unique wildlife. Nowhere else in the world could you find a platypus, koala, kangaroo, wallaby, wombat, echidna, kookaburra, or Tasmanian devil in their natural habitat. Deserts, grasslands, mountains, rain forests, and thousands of miles of coastline make up this diverse nation/continent.
Australia’s most striking and magnificent geographical feature is Ayers Rock. This stone monolith, located near the southern border of the Northern Territory, rises 1,200 feet above a surrounding landscape that is almost entirely flat. The mystery and impressiveness of Ayers Rock (Uluru) caused it to be considered the most sacred of all sites in the lore of the Aborigines.
Near the end of my work in Gympie, I had the pleasure of taking a two-week Outback trek with a Christian brother, Barry Morgan. Our primary objective was to reach Ayers Rock. Traveling by four-wheel-drive, we were able to shorten the distance of the trip by taking several hundred kilometers of dirt roads. About a week into the trip, we passed through Alice Springs and then made camp that evening after dark, knowing that we were getting close to our destination. At dawn, we awoke to the sight of the morning sun illuminating the eastern face of the Rock. After a short drive we reached Uluru, ascended to the top, and spent most of the day exploring its nooks and crannies and enjoying the magnificent view from the top: a dream fulfilled.
On the return trip, and on a particularly dusty stretch of the Plenty Highway, Barry and I were startled by a helicopter that flew over the vehicle from behind at a very low altitude and landed in the road up ahead. We were surprised to learn that it carried a team of surveyors who had become disoriented while mapping water wells (bores) in the area. Their problem was that they were only carrying maps of very small sections of land and had lost their sense of where they were in the “big picture.” After showing them their approximate location on our large-scale map, they recovered their bearings and were off in a cloud of dust.
There are countless individuals in this world who are making their way through life with little sense of where they are or where they are going in the big scheme of things. They gain whatever direction they possess from minuscule “sectional maps” of life. Life becomes an endless series of repetitive daily activities. Their lives are regulated by the cycle of their work schedules and pay periods. Satan would have them continue living this way, never seeking anything larger than themselves, never questioning, “Is this all there is?”
Our calling and ministry as children of the King and disciples of Jesus is to help awaken precious souls to the world of spiritual reality that lies beyond this earthly facade. Many of them have already concluded that there must be something more to life and are humble enough to realize that they need direction. They just need someone to point them toward Jesus. He is the Way that can lead them Home.