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Climb a mountain, snorkel off islands, taste new cuisine. Plummet down rapids, enjoy a roaring campfire, marvel at a waterfall. Worship God in creation, take a scenic train, help the needy…
I’m guessing you picked up this book because you have the heart of a traveller. You’re young, single and raring for adventure. You’ve finished school, maybe even university. Or you’re leaving a job behind. You’re keen for a new start, a change of scenery.
More than any before it, your generation has the opportunity to travel. You can see the world, work in another country and experience different cultures.
But, if you’re a believer, you know God is not taking you on a journey around the Earth merely so you can fall in love with the world and its pleasures. Instead, He wants you to fall in love with Him, the Creator of this planet and the entire universe.
I was 25 years old when I embarked on my first-ever adult journey overseas with my sister Michelle. I had no idea what joys or trials lay waiting in the unknown places ahead of me – what experiences would bring happiness, the people I’d meet who would let me down; which places would stay with me forever as memories of sun-filled paradises, and which I’d look back on with fear and frustration.
But as I set out for fifteen months away from home, there was one thing I did know: the God of all creation was taking me on a new journey. He was right beside me as I packed my bags. And he was waiting patiently as, one last time, I mentally pored over all the things I was leaving behind.
“Nicki, I am all you need,” God was saying to me. But still He waited, smiling as I squeezed another belt and pair of jeans into my already bulging suitcase.
Yet even though I knew God was ultimately in charge, I kept trying to make decisions for myself, to stay in control. What I needed to do was relax and trust Him. Learning that lesson took some time – and a few thousand miles.
In this book, I tell some of the experiences I had on my travels, as well as those of many other travellers who shared with me their stories and wisdom they gleaned through their various journeys. It’s a book about the struggles we’ve faced and the lessons we’ve learned, and how these relate to you as you head out on your own unique journey.
Hopefully this book will be one you pick up in your own times of quiet; I’ve set it up so that (if you’re not a cover-to-cover type reader) you can read a little each day, making it part of your travel devotions.
As part of my travels, I went through Youth With A Mission’s Discipleship Training School. One thing I learned was not to neglect taking time to be quiet. Each morning during our training, we allocated half an hour to this discipline.
I encourage you, too, to make a daily appointment with God a priority. In the busyness of your travel schedule, don’t just squeeze God-time in. There will be plenty that distracts you, and many temptations to lure you away from God. As Proverbs 17:24 tells us, “Wisdom is in the sight of him who has understanding, but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.”
So don’t be a fool. Enjoy the places you visit in your travels, both natural and manmade. Only realise that this Earth is in a cycle of decay and destruction (Rom. 8:21-22). The best is yet to come. Heaven is your real home, and meeting God is what you should most be looking forward to: “But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him’” (1 Cor. 2:9).
I know firsthand how difficult it can be to keep a pure, undefiled heart as you travel. I know, too, that the secret is to keep your eyes on Jesus, all the time.
In Hebrews 12:1-2, the apostle Paul writes: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
The weights and sins that so easily ensnare travellers include glorifying creation rather than the Creator, giving in to drunkenness and the party lifestyle, selfish thrill-seeking, falling into wrong relationships, and coveting what others have or being jealous of who they are.
To avoid these pitfalls that can trap Christians just as readily as unbelievers, look to Jesus. If His face and character are always before you and His Holy Spirit guides you, you will know what you should do in each situation you encounter. Just don’t ignore His “still, small voice” (1 Kings 19:12).
Satan is a tempter, and the last thing he wants is on-fire believers travelling to every nation, affecting young and old alike by their pure lifestyles and conversations seasoned with salt.
Satan wants you to fall. So you’re going to have to be careful, and smart. If you know you have a particular weakness, stay out of compromising situations. Avoid the bars; steer clear of night-time encounters with those of the opposite sex. Guys, be like Joseph, who fled from Potiphar’s wife when she tried to tempt him sexually (Gen. 39). Girls, be like Ruth, who “did not go after young men, whether poor or rich” (Ruth 3:10).
There are plenty of pleasures and good experiences awaiting you as a Christian travelling to new places – there is no need to embrace sin in order to have a good time. “You will show me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11).
As you set out, expect your joy and happiness to come from God. Trust that your future is in His hands. Journey with Him! And never forget that “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
I pray that this book is a help to you as you strive to let Jesus guide your journey and as you seek God’s face each day of your travels.
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