I have done a lot of traveling overseas, however this is the first time I have boarded an international flight with the view of being somewhere for more than a few weeks. This is also the first time that i have boarded an international plane with my wife and family. The trip to Canada has been Leeanne’s first time out of Australia.
This week we have both been struck by how different things are here. The difference is exacerbated by the weather. Leaving summer and coming to an Edmonton winter is a remarkable experience. The Fusion team met us at the plane with coats because they were fairly sure that nothing we could buy in Australia would do the job. I am gradually getting used to the idea that instead of mowing a lawn we will be shoveling snow, and instead of cricket we will be watching ice hockey (if the players in the NHL ever stop striking).
This journey has led me to think a bit about context. I am realizing very quickly that most of our lives are lived within a framework of things we consider to be normal. These things fade into the background of our day to day lives, leaving us to focus on relationships, work and play. When these things are no longer “normal”, all of a sudden the simplest tasks can become much more complex.
Winston Churchill, after the House of Commons was bombed in 1941, said
“We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.”
Context matters. The familiarity of your surroundings can mean that you have to spend less time worrying about the small stuff. Context though, like Churchill said can set an agenda. We build our context and then our context builds us.
There is something healthy about coming out of the “normal” and having to re-look at the assumptions that form the basis of everyday life. A different context can be confronting, but also liberating. When it boils down though, hopefully there is more to us than just the external.
I am continually challenged by the picture of maturity that seems to come through the Bible. Time and again there is this picture of a mature person not being determined by what is happening to them, but being determined by who they are and their relationship with God.
Paul indicates in Ephesians 4:14 that it is the job of the church to help us grow to maturity so that:
“we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.”
The same idea comes through with the word-picture painted in both Psalm 1 and Jeremiah, of the person who trusts God being like a tree whose deep roots mean that external conditions don’t determine the fruitfulness of their life:
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.  They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”