My family loves going on vacation. Over the past five years we have planned and gone on holidays with our best family friends the Montgomery’s. Some of you who attended our conference may have recognized Natalie at the registration desk and Ben leading worship. Their family is our family and our family is their family. We have survived two trips to Disney World, a trip to Dollywood, an Edisto Beach trip, three mission trips to Costa Rica, and this year we completed a first-time trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
I was especially excited for our families to travel to the beach because my youngest daughter, Ivey, had not yet experienced the beach to its fullest. The first time she had ever been in a pool or felt the ocean’s breeze was in Punta Leona, Costa Rica when she was four months old. At six months old she got to experience the Carolina shore at Edisto Island. She couldn’t possibly have had any recollection of what it meant to have been to the beach.
The kids were already restless and I was grateful when one of the Montgomery kids, Julia, chose to ride with me to help with them. That’s when Natalie reminded me we had to take a trip to Columbia, SC (two hours from our house) to see her niece graduate. The travel and graduation took up four extra hours of our travel time, which made for a long day ahead.
Nevertheless, we set out for the OBX Coast.The drive was challenging. My kids complained, cried, fought, and asked a million questions, like most three- and five-year-olds. Julia did her very best to keep them occupied and the Lord allowed me to see the humor in our travel time. With three hours remaining in our trip, I not only had to pull over many times for discipline purposes and to let my little people use the potty, but noticed I was running low on gas.
I asked Siri to display the gas stations near me and told Natalie to keep going on without us, that we would soon catch up. When I got off on the exit, in the most desolate town I have ever been to, I pulled up at the nearest service station, only to be confronted with a sign saying they no longer served gas. My gas light was on and the closest station was eight miles away. I drove in the direction of the navigation system and finally stopped a local, who told me that his town no longer sold gas and the nearest service station was ten miles up the road. Getting back on the interstate, I called Natalie in a panic.
“I won’t make it,” I explained. She, being the Pollyanna in our relationship, said, “Sure you will! It’s only ten more miles. You’ll be fine.”
No more than five minutes after hanging up, my emergency engine light came on and my Prius, yes, PRIUS ran out of gas. Then I had to make the most embarrassing phone call to her husband, Ben, to explain that I did not indeed “make it.” Natalie got on the phone and assured me she would head back to save the day.
However, the words that came out of her mouth next alarmed me even more than being stuck on the side of the road in the southern humidity with her 14-year-old and my two young children.
“You won’t believe this! We just saw a bear literally run across the road. We saw a bears crossing sign and then a real bear!” There is no emoji created yet to describe what I was thinking or feeling. At least the threat of a bear did keep my children very quiet and very still while waiting on help to arrive.
It took us ten hours to get to the Outer Banks that day. It takes most people seven hours from where we live, not to mention our two-hour drive to Columbia and two-hour graduation.
But the reward of finally reaching our destination was worth it. My family got to experience the joy of spending time together. We got to hang out with friends we had missed due to our busy schedules. We got to watch our children boogie board, ghost crab, build sand castles, dig moats, and experience a new coast for the first time. We played games together and ate together. We made new memories and shared past memories.
Everyone remembers their favorite vacation destination. They remember whom they traveled with, the things they experienced, even the meals they shared.
It’s a lot like the Christian journey. Most of us get hung up on the destination. We all want to make it to paradise. We focus on the future and what is being prepared for us. Some of us exhaust ourselves by trying harder, praying more, and studying the scriptures more. We think if we are a “good” or “bad” Christians that our performance will alter our destination. We like to focus on what will be or what has been, rather than experiencing intimacy with God on a daily basis on the journey. The mentality that we broker our relationship with God through our actions or performance causes us to disregard the grace of God and what He chose to give us through His son Jesus.
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
4 So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
6 when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
7 for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me. (Psalm 63:3-8 ESV)
David displays what it truly means to have intimacy with God. His soul thirsted for intimacy with his Creator. The destination won’t completely fulfill us. What is offered to us in the future is freely given to us on a daily basis through a relationship with Christ. David experienced a very interesting preparation for his destination. His life was full of crazy circumstances. Some he brought upon himself and others were allowed to come his way. He had many enemies along the road to Heaven, but he trusted God’s steadfast love for him. No matter the trouble that came, he knew his help and his refuge were found in the Lord.
Instead of worrying about reaching our destination, what if we lived each day anxiously waiting to experience God in deeper intimacy until we see Him face to face?
What is your vacation destination this summer? Leave in to the comments.
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