Our seventeen-year-old son flew to France a week ago. He’s gone for three months on a high school exchange program.
We hosted his wonderful French partner last fall from August to November. We’re surprisingly at peace with our son’s excursion.
It’s partly because it’s obvious that his host family are warm and kind. It’s also due to his older sister’s successful exchange to France three years ago. It’s mostly due to trusting the Lord for his wellbeing.
It’s amazing the travels our children have already enjoyed. When I was a boy, I didn’t step outside the province of Ontario until my early twenties (except for a weekend hockey trip to Michigan…hockey was usually the culprit for keeping me close to home).
Our kids have flown to California, ridden to Florida, traveled to El Salvador on mission trips, and annually conquer a road trip to Boston. As a family, we traveled to Armenia, which included exploring much of France, a guided tour of Italy, and short touchdowns in Germany, Switzerland, and Luxembourg.
The opportunities seem endless. More and better opportunities for youth abound, and global travel is as natural as short local road trips once were.
The snowball or chain effect is heavy. Educational opportunities and choices are enhanced, technological developments are rapid, and economic ties are closer.
We shouldn’t take these advancements for granted. In general, progress has pros and cons. There were also great benefits and drawbacks to simpler times. In the end, progress comes with a price, yet it’s what civilization seeks.
We certainly should be thankful for some of the benefits of progress. Changes in recreation, leisure, transportation, labor, etc. are obvious.
However, as you participate in these great changes and reap some of the rewards, know that you are participating in the fulfillment of prophetic words, spoken in approximately 165 B.C. From the Old Testament, Daniel chapter 12:
4 “But Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret; seal it up so that it will not be understood until the end times, when travel and education shall be vastly increased!” (The Living Bible)
Being a paraphrase rather than translation, The Living Bible can be somewhat controversial, but we can glean the same prediction in historically reliable translations:
4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. (King James Version)
We won’t examine the prophecy itself from verses 1-3. As for the end times reference, all we’ll say here is that it’s not referring to some apocalyptic destruction of the earth. From a Christian perspective, it’s a very positive occurrence, marking the return of the Lord Jesus to restore earth to its perfect state.
For our purposes, the most incredible reference is the prediction of a time of remarkable progress, in travel and knowledge. Can we not see ourselves and our time in it?
The Boston Commons High Tech Network details how R. Buckminster Fuller’s Knowledge Doubling Curve, which he introduced in 1982, shows that knowledge only doubled approximately every century up until 1900, then every twenty-five years by the end of WWII. Now it’s doubling every twelve months, possibly on its way to every twelve hours.[i]
In the world of transportation, advancements were slow for millennia. Not until the advent of the train did we witness much movement in land travel.
The automobile took that to another level. Now we observe the eightfold increase in air passenger flights over the last four decades.[ii]
The fact is we’re living in the rapidly changing world of knowledge and travel increase—to exponential degrees. This was predicted over two thousand years ago.
An important application is to pray for travel mercies and physical safety.[iii] This is something we do as a family before leaving home. Another is to pray for strength to navigate a rapidly changing world. Befriend and be mentored by others who have taken the journey with some success—faithful ones who have taken detours and experienced turbulence, only to be returned to the narrow and safe way by the Master. Luke 8:
22 Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.” And they launched out. 23 But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. 24 And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!”
Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 But He said to them, “Where is your faith?”
And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!”
[iii] “The phrase “traveling mercies” goes back at least as far as the late nineteenth century when travel was far more perilous than today. Letters from missionaries report that the Lord provided traveling mercies as they traveled to their ministry destination. The earliest known use in a context outside of missions appears in the 1956 book They Shall Not March Alone. There, a chaplain prayed for traveling mercies on behalf of a soldier.” (https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B160125/traveling-mercies)