We spent ten beautiful days in Vermont, watching the trees turn the colorful shades of fall. We hiked along streams and through the dense woods, amazed at the sheer beauty of God’s creation. I had never been to Vermont before, and the natural beauty didn’t disappoint.
We learned a great deal while there about the history of the fourteenth state and the history the state is writing today. Jim and I spent a lot of time on our daily hikes talking about the contrasts and what the culture of Vermont should teach us today.
Six bookstores – zero Bibles
Jim and I rarely walk past a bookstore that we don’t enter, especially when we are traveling. Bookstores are one of the best places to absorb the culture of an area because they sell what people want to read. After visiting the sixth bookstore in Vermont, I decided I needed to spend time somewhere else.
I found some beautiful wooden boxes in the first bookstore and was hoping they would fit a Bible I have. I carried the box all over the store, looking for their shelf of Bibles. Finally, I asked the woman at the front desk where they might be.
She reacted with a look I don’t have words for even now. She told me they didn’t carry Bibles.
I probably reacted with a look she didn’t recognize either. We were both confused.
I think she was wondering why I would be asking for a Bible in her bookstore. I was wondering why a bookstore didn’t carry the most important number-one bestseller ever printed. I thanked her for the help, purchased a couple of cards I liked, and then left the store.
The woman at the bookstore was kind, but I’m fairly certain she was also very lost. There was a line of people behind me waiting to check out. I wish I could have invited the lady at the bookstore to have a cup of coffee and a conversation about the Bible.
Lots of churches – little worship
Jim and I also have a habit of visiting churches wherever we go. We like to walk in the sanctuary and get a feel for what God’s people are up to in the area.
Vermont has some of the most quaintly beautiful churches I have ever seen. Years ago I saw a calendar of the churches of Vermont that planted the ideas for this trip. I have wanted to visit Vermont for a long time so I could see that beautiful state and those country churches with all their history. I wanted to visit the quaint towns and learn their history. The history of Vermont dates back to the birth of America.
Every small town had a beautiful church at the center. Most had tall white steeples and a cemetery beside them. The headstones were old and often unreadable, dating back to the early 1800s. The churches, like the cemeteries, have stories to tell about how difficult it was to survive the wars, the winters, and the other worries of life in the colonial years and after.
We wanted to go in those churches and visit the places where people have worshipped for centuries. Of all the churches we visited, only one was open during the week. Some of the churches still met for worship on Sunday mornings, but many of the churches aren’t churches anymore.
We were surprised at the number of church buildings that were community centers, libraries, or something else other than a church. Many of the steeples had come down and were not rebuilt. The former churches were often homes or places of business.
Vermont is listed as one of the least religious states, with only 21 percent of its people attending a church of any kind on a weekly basis. That percentage is even worse than it appears given that many of the churches that still exist in the state proudly display signs and flags indicating they don’t align their worship with God’s word.
Vermont is a mission field
Vermont is one of the most beautiful places God created in this country. The citizens are dedicated to their environment, their country, and their causes. I’ve never seen so many American flags proudly waving from the porches of homes.
Vermont has a small population of dedicated Americans, most of whom vote completely differently than I do. Faith issues are not important to the majority of their citizens and are actually considered by many to be the root cause of what is wrong in our country.
Truthfully, most of the people in Vermont are much more concerned about America than I am. And I am much more concerned about Americans than most of them. For most of the people in Vermont, this life is all that matters, and they are ready to fight for whatever makes their life on earth what they want it to be.
I want to encourage people to focus their priorities on their eternal lives.
There are a lot of good people in Vermont who need God. That was the topic of almost every hike and car trip that Jim and I had on our vacation.
How do you give God to good people who don’t know they need him?
Christians are ambassadors for Christ
Vacationing in Vermont was like walking the streets of a movie set. The quaint towns appear to be a slice of Americana, yet, if you look behind the facades, there is a great emptiness. The incredible natural beauty displays the existence of God to people who refuse to see him. They have exchanged their worship of the Creator for worship of the created (Romans 1:25). Most worship what God has made rather than the God who made it.
Most of the people in Vermont don’t believe in God and don’t believe they need the salvation his Son died to provide. They don’t understand there is a Creator who wants to be their Father. They have reconciled themselves to the realities of this world because they don’t realize they need to be reconciled to God. They embrace and fight for their lives on earth because they don’t believe in a life eternal.
If the Apostle Paul were alive today, he would want to go to Vermont and start evangelical churches, filled with people who would share their faith with others. He would call the Christians in the state to live boldly for the gospel message of Christ. He told the Christians in Corinth that God had entrusted them with “the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19). Paul said, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).
Christians need to live as ambassadors for Christ, which means we need to be reconciled to God. When we are living rightly with God, we can help people understand they need him too.
God entrusted Christians with His message
No matter where I go, I am called to be Christ’s ambassador. At first, it felt strange to carry my religion around in Vermont. Jim and I honestly felt like foreign missionaries in our own country. But what felt odd at first began to feel like our great privilege. We were able to have several conversations as “ambassadors” for Christ.
We are now back home but still thoughtful. Is Vermont setting the direction for America, or will God’s people do that?
Honestly, we don’t have that answer.
Will the ambassadors for Christ prosper, or will the prince of this world have the most persuasive debaters?
We enjoyed visiting with the good people of Vermont. We came home reminded of the fact that Christians are called to help good people understand their need for God. We are ambassadors and missionaries everywhere we go.
It was good to travel in the beauty of God’s creation and remember that all people need to know and worship their Creator. As Christ’s ambassadors, how will you and I represent him to the people we encounter today?