How far is the east from the west? In my experience, twenty-four hours of travel to be exact. Or is it?
I recently traveled east to Singapore. An island known to westerners as being in the east.
Yet to some, I also live in the east—that is on the eastern seaboard of the United States.
My husband and I accompanied our twin boys taking part in the World Finals of a competition called F1 in Schools. If you’d like to share in our excitement, their team claimed the title of World Champions. This mamma bear is so proud.
Singapore is a long way east of Massachusetts in the north-east of America.
I’d never been to Asia. I was excited. Yet, twenty-four hours of travel is far from glamorous. We left Boston for a six-hour flight to London Heathrow. After a two hours layover, we began the next leg of our journey—a fourteen-hour flight to Singapore.
I slept as we flew thousands of miles across Europe, the Black Sea, Iran and India. I watched the interactive map as our plane crossed high above the Indian Ocean. Our flight took us south of the island Phuket, known for being devastated by the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami. Then we followed the western coastline of Malaysia to the southern tip, and Singapore.
Twelve time zones and 9,400 miles in twenty-four hours means numerous days of adjustment are inevitable.
Crossing the globe is nothing new. Even biblical history is full of people leaving their homes for faraway places. Jetlag, however, is a modern phenomenon. Traveling by boat or camel may have been slow, but it had it’s advantages. At least it didn’t cause you to be wide-awake at night and falling asleep during the day.
The East brought new experiences. Unusual foods. Unfamiliar people.
It also gave me a new perspective on scripture:
As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12 (NIV)
These words should fill our souls with reassurance. They should overwhelm our hearts with God’s compassionate love. They should astonish our minds with God’s overflowing grace towards us.
Yet, our modern thinking and experiences bring a different point of view. We measure the distance of the east from the west and we consider it to be, well, not very far. We assess our wrongdoing and it is also close at hand.
We assess the east from our place in the west. We don’t even have to travel there. We watch television, movies and videos and we learn about the culture of the east. We are familiar with what goes on there. In the same way, we see the areas of our lives in which we struggle to be good. We know well what goes on in our deceitful hearts and so, we don’t leave behind the things we’ve done wrong.
When we are told God no longer remembers our faults, we find it hard to comprehend. When we are told he forgives and forgets, we find it difficult to believe.
Yet, we should not confuse our understanding with the beauty of God’s truth. The east can never be reached. The unlimited mercy of God towards us can never be restricted. Measure his forgiveness, not your failures.
Just keep traveling east, you’ll never find the west.
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Join me at these linkups for more encouraging words. Susannah Kellogg’s #FaithandFellowship, Suzie Eller’s #LiveFreeThursday, Holly Barrett’s #TestimonyTuesday, Kelly Balarie’s #RaRaLinkup, Natalie Venegas at Salt & Light, Arabah Joy at Grace & Truth, Susan B. Mead at #DanceWithJesus, Kelly Balarie at #RaRaLinkup, Holley Gerth at #CoffeeForYourHeart
Hallelujah! What an awesome perspective of God’s forgiveness. Sometimes it’s so hard to believe He can forgive us so easily, but His Word in the scripture you shared is clear on the subject! And thank you for sharing your pics, too. Congratulations to your kids – that’s awesome! I’ve never been to Asia, but would love to travel there someday. Visiting from live free Thursdays today:)
Thanks Kristine, for visiting and commenting.
“These words should fill our souls with reassurance. They should overwhelm our hearts with our God’s compassionate love. They should astonish our minds with God’s overflowing grace towards us.” YES & AMEN! What a beautiful reminder of God’s forgiveness today; thank you! #livefreeThursday
Hi Rachel, big congrats to your son’s team.
Yes friend! Our failures don’t define who we are. Thank God for His forgiveness and Grace.
Thank you for stopping over earlier. I appreciate it so much.
Blessings to you
Thanks, Ifeoma, for visiting, for your comment, and for joining me in celebrating my boys successes.
Congrats to your boys on their exciting win, Rachel! Traveling long distances and changing time zones absolutely wears me out. I love the idea of thinking about Psalm 103:12 in the process. How much that verse comes to life as you are actually making that long trek! I far too easily stay in that failure-measuring mode and am seeing my precious son get stuck there lately. Thank you for this: “Measure his forgiveness, not your failures.” I’ll share that with him as well :).
What an amazing trip! I’ve never traveled outside of the U.S., and I love living in an age where I can “travel” around the world virtually. I’m thankful for the spiritual truths you pulled from the trip too.
It’s nice to travel virtually. Physical travel is exciting but it can be so tiring. Thanks for visiting Sarah.
I go to those biblical words often, but never from the perspective of having traveled the tail-chasing distance of east to west. Thanks for sharing this beautiful experience!
Thanks Michele. Those words are a wonderful reminder to us to worship God for what he has done for us.
God’s forgiveness is mind boggling, isn’t it? Thanks for the sweet reminder. And congrats to your boys! Blessings!
Yes, Kelly, we have a wonderful God. Thank you for visiting.
so true that we don’t think of the distance between the east and the west as the original writer may have – yet also true we can’t be in both places at once. God forgives us our sins and removes them, yet we stay in the east when He’s placed them in the west. silly us. All God’s grace – that His forgiveness washes us clean and that He continues to bring us fully into His truth. thanks and congrats on your amazing kids!
I’ve been there and almost got run over – not the same traffic laws as mild California!
Sue I love your observation that we stay where we are even though God has forgiven and forgotten our wrongdoing. We can move on but so often we don’t allow ourselves to do so. Singapore was an amazing experience. Glad you didn’t get run over!
This gives a whole new meaning to “as far as the east is from the west”!! So thankful that’s how far he removes our sins from us!! I was curious to read your thoughts on Singapore as I may possibly be traveling there….congrats’ to your boys!!
you’ve enlarged our borders, you’ve taken us there, Rachel …
so good to connect with you at Holley’s this morning!
I loved reading this traveling post and your experience in Asia! (Congrats to your sons’ teams too!) Beautiful photos and what an incredible experience to see a different lifestyle. Always enjoy your words here!
Rachel, what a great post! Enjoyed traveling along with you and the photos!
Many blessings to you!
[…] In her post, Rachel shared about a trip she made from the States to Asia. She used her trip to explain the vastness of our world, and to share how this trip put Psalm 103:12 into perspective for her in terms of understanding God’s forgiveness – as far as the east is from the west. […]
Measure His forgiveness not your failures! I absolutely love that and I love how you were present in the moment with your family yet didn’t neglect to see the things of God right where you are. Understanding His forgiveness with the same sensitivity you had while traveling is what will keep us from meditating on our failures. Thank you for sharing. Stopping by from Grace and Truth Link up.
Thanks Timberley, for your encouragement.
Love reading about your travels! Thank you for the reminder about God’s love in the midst of my daily screw-ups:)
Visiting from #Grace&Truth
Your comment made me smile, Julie. Keep being reminded of God’s love.
I love your last statement, “Just keep traveling east, you’ll never find the west.” It’s true; if you travel far enough north, you reach the north pole, and far enough south, you reach the south pole.
But there is no east pole or west pole. So, God has removed our transgressions so far from us that we will never be able to reach them again. They’re gone!
Congrats on your sons’ achievements! 🙂
You’re right, there is no east or west pole. I like that, Ruth. God can teach us from His created world.