Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tanzania, Foyle's War, and The Battle of Bedford Falls

Tomorrow our friends the Guilzon's board an airplane with 2 of their 4 children and fly to East Africa, where they pioneered and continue to operate a medical clinic for thousands of people in the remote Rukwa Valley of Tanzania.  (One child will join them at Christmas, travelling with his sister who is here in the states for college).

We had the privilege of spending a little time with these beautiful missionaries at the church's soup and salad send off. This family is as down to earth as you can imagine: regular folk with extraordinary courage (though they would never say so), laying down all the comforts of western culture to show the love of Christ in a very tangible way to some very needy people.

But they never act like their calling is a sacrifice.  They act like they love it.  Because they do love it. They say it's hard sometimes, but it's a joy.  They love the people of the Rukwa Valley.  So they keep going back, despite their oldest daughter nearly dying of malaria, despite 125 degrees in the shade, despite bugs the size of small rodents.

You could feel a little small beside these faith giants.

But as we were sharing the last few embraces, I said something to them that has stuck with me these last few days.

"You go do what you're supposed to do, and we'll stay here and do what we're supposed to do..."  I turned and said to my husband, "we'll stay here and fight the battle of Bedford Falls."

That last quote might take a bit of "splainin'" as Ricky Ricardo used to say.  (If you don't know who he is you better Google it...I can't spell out every pre 1960 reference!)

In the classic Christmas movie, It's a Wonderful Life, Jimmy Stewart plays the character of George Bailey, all around good egg who seems to wind up with the short end of the stick every time.  While his younger brother beats up on the Nazi's as a heroic fighter pilot, George is stuck in Bedford Falls due to a deaf ear (brought on when he saved this same brother from drowning in an icy pond as a boy).  He stays and fights the battle of Bedford Falls...

"Air raid warden, paper drives, scrap drives, rubber drives..."  This was the unglamorous, unheralded work George Bailey was called to do.

And it was critical.

Drawing on British TV, I thought of another example from fiction to illustrate what I'm trying to say here: If you haven't had a chance to watch Foyle's War, get thee to the Netflix!

Detective Chief Inspector Foyle would love to do something meaningful during England's difficult days of WWII.  But he's too old to fight, and his Superior lays out to him that he's needed as a policeman on the home front.  As it turns out, the civilian work he does often intersects with the lofty goals of the war.  But it's hard for him to see from his perspective.

I think that's what the crux is of what's been rolling around in my head since we said goodbye to Mark and Jodi.  This sturdy realization that we must seek the will of God for what our part is in this cosmic war for light and truth, for life and real, eternal liberty.  Then we need to do it.

Perhaps we have our marching orders to travel to a distant land, and show compassion to a world of impoverished people who depend on witch doctors for their infected fingers and have little hope of a life beyond the narrow confines of their village.

Maybe some, like C.S. Lewis, will use words to change lives for decades and perhaps century's to come, having a platform to reach millions.

But just as critical, and just as valued by God, are those who fight the Battle of Bedford Falls.  Those who go to work and show compassion to an office full of spiritually impoverished people, American "villagers" depending on alcohol, material gain,and all manner of empty addictions, with little hope of a life beyond the narrow confines of their harassed and rat raced lives.

Mom's who care for their kids, picking up a thousand Cheerios and stepping on a thousand Lego's.

Stock brokers, nurses, teachers, electricians, government executives, tennis pros...and so on and so forth.  Wherever you go, whatever you do, do it right there for the love of God and the benefit of people.

The Detective Foyle's of the world, the ordinary blokes who keep doing the next right thing for the sake of the kingdom of God, they too will have their reward.

If you're feeling like your life doesn't count, you're wrong.  We're all intertwined and we all have a job to do.  Nobody else can do yours.

Go out there and pray, love and live for the Glory of God.

Go out there and fight the Battle of Bedford Falls.

Here, in London or in Tanzania.  Everywhere on this earth, in this chapter of eternal history, that will soon be wrapping up.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


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