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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