Friday, April 5, 2013

To flee or not

I am still working on (reading) the Bonhoeffer biography. Lots of thoughts to slowly digest.

Right now I am at the part of his life where he is torn over whether or not he needs to be in Germany. Of course, as readers, we know how his life ends up.

Bonhoeffer did a lot of traveling, and could have escaped from Germany as the conflict was heating up. But when he did travel,-to America, for instance-he felt restless being away from Germany.

Journal entry from 13th June, 1939—The country house in Lakeville, Connecticut, is in the hills; fresh and luxuriant vegetation. In the evening thousands of fire-flies in the garden, like flying fire. I had never seen them before. Quite a fantastic sight. Very friendly and “informal” reception. All that’s missing is Germany, the brethren. The first lonely hours are hard. I do not understand why I am here, whether it was a sensible thing to do, whether the results will be worthwhile. In the evening, last of all, the readings and thoughts about work at home.
Another entry from the same time period: It is almost unbearable. . . . Today God’s Word says, “I am coming soon” (Rev. 3.11). There is no time to lose, and here I am wasting days, perhaps weeks. In any case, it seems like that at the moment. Then I say to myself again, “It is cowardice and weakness to run away here now.” Will I ever be able to do any really significant work here? Disquieting political news from Japan. If it becomes unsettled now I am definitely going back to Germany. I cannot stay outside [Germany] by myself. That is quite clear. My whole life is still over there.

Later, we learn that Bonhoeffer did in fact cut short his trip in favor of returning to Germany. Was it mere homesickness or a greater sense of obligation? Perhaps some of both.

Even in a time of peace, I think we often feel a sense of urgency and restlessness when we have to be away from what we believe is our place of ministry. It reminds me of times when I've been delayed from entering Russia. 

And it also resembles our situation a little bit, with people asking if we want to seek a better life elsewhere. In Russia, we're a religious minority. And the country has seen better times. For some these reasons are motivation to leave, and for others it just creates more opportunities to trust in the Lord.

*Quotes were included in the Eric Metaxas biography. I need to go back and get the page numbers...

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