Madeira. To some people Madeira is cake, to others a fortified wine. For many Europeans Madeira is a holiday destination. But for approximately 280,000 people Madeira is home. This island home is 280 miles from the coast of Africa and 540 miles from mainland Europe. Madeira measures 35 miles by 14, and reaches a height of just over 6,100 feet above sea level. Despite being mountainous with very little flat land, Madeira appears to have an abundance of agriculture through extensive terracing and irrigation of the drier areas.
The road network includes narrow mountain roads with hairpin bends, modern four-lane dual carriageways, and numerous tunnels, which combine to provide good access to all parts of the island. And no traffic jams. For those who are inclined it is possible to travel downhill in a basket for two kilometres into the capital, Funchal.
I have never visited anywhere quite like Madeira before, despite having travelled extensively since I left school in 1973. My few words provide a poor description of this unique and stunningly beautiful place. But I was not surprised to visit somewhere so completely different to anywhere else I have been. And I know that there are many more places like Madeira to visit and explore.
Much of our world will remain undiscovered to the vast majority of us. Knowing that there is more to see does not mean that we will get to see it all. Even the wealthiest citizens of our world cannot possibly hope to visit all of its wonders in the three score years and ten officially allotted to mankind.
The same is true in spiritual terms. There are places we have never been. But I believe that there are new blessings waiting for us if we trust God and allow Him to take us there. The problem is that most of live on small islands in spiritual terms. Small spiritual islands that we have failed to leave because we are comfortable where we are, or because we feel intimidated by the thought of the journey. If the early Portuguese explorers had lost their bottle and never left harbour Madeira would still be an uninhabited rock in the Atlantic Ocean. Are we brave enough to leave harbour and trust God to take us places we have never been before?
When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. (1 Corinthians 13:11-12 NLT)