Peter Grier
Travel: In Tandem With God's Heart
IVP, London, 2018
ISBN-13: 978-1783597352



Travel

 

"A relevant and personally challenging read for today’s Christian – whether just starting out or a long-time traveller - to help us all make the most of our travel experiences."

Overseas travel has changed over the past few decades in developed nations from being a luxury item to be something large numbers of people can engage in, often several times a year. Increasingly, it also seems to be driven by the desire to “tick off” as many places (and experiences) as possible for bragging rights when back home. 

Peter Grier’s Travel: In Tandem With God’s Heart, then, comes as a timely read. Grier, who works with Christian Unions in Ireland and has himself travelled extensively, takes a look at the joys of travel alongside an exploration of whether it could – even should – be combined with a deeper purpose as part of our journey through life with God.

In its pages, he examines some common issues would-be travellers might face – such as how to choose where to go next when we're spoilt for choice – as well as some of the key faith-related questions that might be raised by the new experiences we encounter when travelling. And he doesn’t shy away from tackling with a critical eye some common ideas among travellers when it comes to their faith – such as the association of encountering God when spending time in nature but not in an urban environment and the sometimes constant comparison of travellers with how wonderful life is back home.

One of our favourite passages comes in chapter two when Grier addresses what he describes as the “often-subconscious temptation of travellers to ‘out-story’ each other” with their wonderous tales of adventure and the need to instead consider the bigger picture God is writing in our lives.

As he writes: “The supposedly enlightened traveller tells those of us who are not as privileged to have jobs, finance or lack of family responsibility, about their extensive travels, their wonderful learning...[W]e must be careful that this highly self-centred preoccupation doesn’t come with a thin veneer of Christian coating of doing ‘mission.’ Instead, finding our place in the bigger (God’s) story, we find true stories that have been told and retold thousands of times over, in various cultures, at points throughout all history, and yet have never grown old. This big story of God’s grace, bringing a travelling people home to a vibrant new world to explore and enjoy, is far better news when well told than any travel story ever could be.”

The book also contains a fascinating couple of chapters looking at travel in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible and a couple of handy appendices – one on how to navigate some ethical questions you many encounter while travelling and Grier’s own 'top 10 travel tips' which include the critical admonition - “Enjoy the moment”.

Each chapter comes with some questions at the back for further discussion as well as a sample prayer, making it useful for small group discussion and while, not surprisingly given Grier’s job, it’s aimed at students, it can make for an interesting read for anyone who wants to look a little deeper at their desire for and experience of travel in today's world.

A relevant and personally challenging read for today’s Christian – whether just starting out or a long-time traveller - to help us all make the most of our travel experiences. Bon voyage!