Oh, the Places He’ll Take You {The Grove: Travel}

velvet ashes grove travel

My first international flight was at the age of 19. To Israel. Solo.

For some reason, this seemed perfectly reasonable and not as alarming as it should’ve been. It’s possible my mother was in bits when I took off from Chicago’s O’Hare, transferred in Munich, landed in Tel Aviv, was collected by a taxi driver, then driven alone to the heart of the city to meet my schoolmates. Even now, when I look back on it, I’m shocked.

How did I survive? Not freak out? Find my connections, my driver, my way?

Surely God – and our college liability insurance – was taking care of me, and truly no harm came to me, save a tomato juice spilled all the way down a crisp white shirt and an overly touchy man in the Jerusalem market.

But once I connected with my choir pals, we toured all over that tiny nation. From Haifa to Bethlehem, singing in the ruins of Capernaum and on the lush hills of Galilee, a world traveller was born.

Three years later I’d be wandering Edinburgh’s cobblestone lanes. Three years after that my husband, toddler and I would be on a vision trip to Dublin. In all the years since, any number of European countries, cities and cultures have graced the pages of my passport and the chambers of my heart. And just last month, I sent my own child (at the age of 14!) on a plane by himself to France.

For a girl who longed for something magical, something other than the plains of Kansas, it’s hard not to call that a win. When I graduated from high school and was given that small board book proclaiming, “Oh, the places you’ll go!” never would I have thought, truly, of all those places, those nooks and crannies, the risks and the mistakes, the tears and the triumphs.

And yet… it’s not in those places – beautiful and, yes, magical though they are – where I find my greatest achievements.

No, the wonder of this nomadic life is in the faces God’s brought me, the experiences He’s given me, the glimpse of heaven he’s offered me.

On my knees in heartbroken humility.

Arms raised in hopeful clarity.

Face to face with disparity.

Hands open with possibility.

The places He’s taken me are beyond borders and continents. In all these stamps, plane tickets and travels, God continues to provide a greater understanding not just of this world He created, but of the people He loves, the ways He is working. And even more, the brilliant diversity of His beautiful church. The sons and daughters who worship in mother tongue, serve with overflowing hearts, proclaim freedom and good news on their own inner city streets.

It’s a shame it takes a trip around the world to truly see it. But oh, the places He’s taken me.

And oh, the places He’ll take you. Even today. This very minute.

Outside our front doors is the world. All we need do is open them, and step out…

Where is God taking you today? What aspect of the world, His kingdom, or His promises has He blessed you with through travel? And where have you struggled to find him?


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  1. Michele February 16, 2018

    When I first connected with the call to ‘the nations’, I pictured either Latin America (I’d had quite a bit of Spanish in high school) or Eastern Europe, where the Iron Curtain had just come down and the needs were all over the headlines. I landed in the African bush for two years and then Asia for twenty… places I never ever dreamed of seeing, much less falling in love with. And the people I’ve had the privilege to know and love and be loved by… Oh my goodness! I’m reading this post at the end of a quiet morning, so my heart is soft enough just now that the words brought tears to my eyes and caused gratitude to bubble up and pour out all over the place as I think of where I’ve been and all the faces and the changes I don’t think I ever would have experienced if I’d stayed put.Thanks for writing so beautifully and sparking the memories!

  2. Janessa Cypher February 16, 2018

    I love that book! I’ve actually started one for my son – every birthday writing something to him with the plan of giving it to him on his 18th birthday. It’s something I can physically give him that holds memories and moments. Living abroad makes me think about how I can give meaningful things that provide a little “home” and “stability” in the midst of the travel and being raised in another country. It’s an incredible life! Thanks for the joyful reminder and for sharing your thoughts.

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