Being outdoors is often referred to as an escape. An escape from the hustle and bustle; an escape from the rat race; an escape from normal life. Whether it be fly fishing, hiking, or simply standing in a wild place, these pursuits give a diverse group of people the feeling of liberation.
It is true. And it would be foolish to deny the sentiment.
Where the escape analogy begins to fall apart is the big picture.
Although trying and seemingly confining at times, normal life isn’t bad. Vocation, relationships, and just being a part of society are good things. Perhaps enough time has passed that contemporary man is unaware that it wasn’t so long ago that humanity was clamoring to escape from being outdoors. Escape from the rivers; escape from the rusticity, escape from nature red in tooth and claw.
In the big picture, it is apparent that our world is groaning. Humanity is groaning, too. The futility of fighting against nature, work, and each other propels people to escape. For aeons, those in wild places run to the cities and towns. Those in civilization flee to the water and the woods.
The desire to escape isn’t a result of modernity. It is a result of fallen humanity.
While escape provides temporal reprieve, it only pacifies one part of a multifaceted problem. Leaving, be definition, means that something is being left. A weekend away from it all might bestow rejuvenation or perspective, but only in the contact of an all-to-sudden return.
There is something that is absolutely better than escape: Restoration.
This idea is most powerfully and poignantly revealed in Good Friday and Easter. The message is of reconciliation achieved through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. It is a restoration of all things: people first, but also things like vocation and creation.
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. – Romans 8:20-21
Humanity is at the forefront of the cross. Scripture reveals that God in flesh, Jesus Christ, lived a perfect life only to take our place and pay our price.
God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. – Romans 8:33-34
The joy we experience in this life is a foretaste of a reenchantment of reality. The gospel is foremost about reconciling people with their God. But inasmuch as the fish, mountains, and their care were declared good at creation, their restoration is part of the great gospel truth. His crucifixion on Friday was followed by His resurrection on Sunday. Death and the futility of this world were conquered.
Pleasant, temporary escapes that people enjoy today are another picture of the very same grace that is able to transform lives and worlds. It is a grace that is available because of the cross, not by a work done or a system created. God calls for people to escape those futile ways of trying to get through life, and receive His gift of grace and restoration.
Have a blessed holiday.
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