After saying a bittersweet goodbye to the majestic country of Turkey early in the morning, we began traversing the waters of the Aegean Sea by way of ferry to Patmos Island. We were met with a vibrant sunrise and slowly dissipating fog, as well as a school of dolphin coursing through the blue waters creased by our vessel. Though I would miss Turkey, I was also excited to see what Greece would hold. It is strange to me how each country seems to carry a persona all its own: resulting from a combination of geography, culture, leadership, and people. Boarding the ferry, I already felt the atmosphere change. Not in a necessarily positive or negative manner—just as a fact and a wonder. My first taste of Greece, even as we were yet on the sea, was one of peace and great beauty. I am excited to see how the character of this country develops as we move from the islands to the city of Athens tomorrow.
But for yesterday, most of us found ourselves sleeping for most of the 4-hour journey to Patmos—lack of sleep catching up with us. In all, today risked being one of the most grueling days of the trip so far simply for this reason, compounded by climate change from cool and rainy Turkey to the hot Grecian sun. Yet through all this, the day was certainly a highlight of my own experiences on this trip so far. The white, reflexive paint of the homes littering the lush landscape of Patmos was only the beginning of inspiration scenes that came my way that day. Being in the cave where John may have written Revelation, and certainly on the island where he did so, had a profound effect on me. Something about that place made me want to stay there all day and prayerfully reread the book in the place it was penned, the place its words were actually alive and experienced.
It is true that there are a few convincing theories as to whether the book was written by the apostle himself, or another Christian man named John. But to be honest, I might be most fond of the idea that this John was not one of the twelve, but a lesser-known, “common” believer to whom Jesus graciously chose to reveal Himself. This John, whoever he may be, was so intentional about his faith that he went to live in a cave to focus on and deepen his relationship with God. As a result, Christ gave him vision of His active presence and sovereignty throughout the past, future, and the present state of human life.
And God still moves and speaks through things little and great; not sticking only to one means of bringing revelation or another, one type of person or another. One thing that has been so important about this trip is discovering how by visiting ancient sights, we can better relate what has happened in the past to the modern world and our own experiences of faith today. I have found something significant about considering Christ revealing His glory in such a powerful way to a common yet passionate believer. Indeed, God honors the faith of a pure and humble heart. It is encouragement to know God uses the weak to shame the strong, even today, even in me.
Mary Elizabeth Vance
“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father —to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.”