On May 6, 1856, Robert Edwin Peary entered the world. Born to ordinary circumstances in Pennsylvania, Peary went on to lead an extraordinary life as one of the most famous explorers in history. Educated as a civil engineer, Peary served in this capacity when he joined the Navy in 1881. While working on surveys for the Nicaragua Canal, Peary vowed to be the first person to reach the North Pole, and he proposed two methods for crossing Greenland to reach the Arctic. At the time, it was unknown whether Greenland stretched all the way to the Arctic or was an island.
Having studied and incorporated native Inuit survival techniques, Peary and his team penetrated Greenland’s ice sheet far enough by dogsled in 1892, to prove that Greenland was in fact an island. In 1902, Peary officially achieved “farthest north” status for which he was internationally hailed. Despite harrowing journeys across endless frozen tundra and shifting ice that nearly cost him his life, in 1909, Peary announced his team finally reached the north pole. Despite various claims disputing his navigation, Peary remains an explorer of historic proportions.
In fourth grade, I was assigned a report on Lewis and Clark. Their adventures enthralled me, and their diaries transported me to a wild America of raw nature, beautiful, parlous, and uncharted. I made a balsa wood “Corps of Discovery” boat and drew pictures of grizzly encounters. As a result, I came to revere and further study some of history’s great explorers: Leif Erickson, Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, James Cook, David Livingstone, Roald Amundson, Ernest Shackleton, Robert Peary, Neil Armstrong… different passions and journeys, yet all united by a desire to explore.
Jesus said, “I am the way” (John 14), and this verse informs our Broadway Church tagline, “Explore the Way with Broadway.” To explore is an invitation to look, see, question, evaluate, and arrive. As we all struggle with health worries related to COVID-19 and concerns for life and business normalcy, perhaps encourage exploration of the Bible, theology, the nature of God, the fullness of Jesus Christ, and the intersection of faith and real life. Exploration can be daunting, even frightening. It might change our very understanding of ourselves. But the reward is nothing less than life, exhilarating life, unto itself.
Do you explore your faith? How about during this shutdown? Do you accept God’s invitation to look, see, question, and evaluate? If so, you just might arrive at a destination that will transform life into exhilarating life. Let’s get going!