385: The View from the End of the World
I’ve spent the past day in Ushuaia (“oo-SHWĪ-uh”), Argentina, waiting to catch the m/v Ortelius to Antarctica. There isn’t much to do here other than walk the streets or the waterfront. The tourist town is the love child you get when Zermatt has an elicit affair with Buenos Aires. The buildings, sidewalks, and roads are disheveled; but the stores and pedestrians are wrapped in expensive apparel. Locals who can’t speak English work in stores whose crackling speakers play Jack Johnson, Ed Sheeran, and Beyoncé. Gourmet restaurant aromas swirl with the fumes of the diesel engines of cars not safe enough to be sold in the States.
I lost count of the signs, buildings, and cars labeled with the local slogan: Fin Del Mundo (“End of the World”). It makes sense, since this is the southernmost city on the planet. I find irony in it, though, since the main attraction here is the port—where we tourists grab ships to other destinations.
I was struck by the lesson inherent in that:
the end of the world is the gateway to God’s grand adventures.
The news is filled with pre-apocalyptic sorrows, precursors to dystopia. Even without world news, pain and heartbreak are running rampant amongst my friends and Facebook connections. I don’t know about you; but cheating spouses, cancerous organs, sexual abuse, joblessness, slavery to student loans, and mental illness are devouring people I care about. The end of the world shadows over their hearts and their perspective.
One by one, though, I’ve seen God leverage this pain for his glory. It’s turned into sovereign camaraderie, authentic worship, and even restorative ministry. Tears still fall, but they have watered fertile soil of the soul. Friends and loved ones have found that the end of the world is just the end of the land they’re leaving. They are embarking on new journeys. Like me, they don’t know exactly what waits in store for them.
The English word adventure starts with advent. That moment of unknown is often where God reveals his character, where he joins us. Immanuel. Some of the most intimate encounters I’ve had with the creator of the universe have come when I felt most uncertain, most out of control. At the end of me is where he was waiting.
So, I’m writing from the end of the world to tell you it’s not what you or I think it is. First, wherever you and I find ourselves is not the end. Second, it’s the gateway to beautiful progress. I anticipate that it’s also the preface to some incredible stories—or at least inspiring chapters in the story God’s writing for us and for the world.
“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me.”