I’ve been consumed lately with thoughts of travel. There’s no telling how many hours I’ve spent researching hotels, activities and airline flights. Honestly, if I got paid for it I would be doing pretty well right now; but the truth is, I just love it. I love reading about all the historical facts and interesting sites in a city. I love looking at pictures and researching the weather and the best hotels and restaurants. Heck, I think I love doing it as much, if not more, for other people than I do for myself. Researching all the ins and outs of a destination is almost as good as being there….almost, because I don’t have to suffer through the ordeal of the actual travel. You know – the getting there part. Long hours waiting, being uncomfortable, no sleep, delays, boredom and often difficulties that no one could have anticipated.
With all these thoughts of trips I’m planning for friends and family, I was struck by a statement I heard the other day. “The destination of a trip determines its’ tone.” (Beth Moore Psalms of Ascent) I started thinking about the past year of my life and remembered a trip to the beach alone with my husband. A trip to Disney to celebrate a marriage and graduation with all our kids. A trip to my home state of Louisiana for two funerals. Yes, I said two. In one day. And I realized how true that statement is. The conversations were completely different on each trip. The mood was different. The expectation of arrival was completely different.
Add to these (seemingly) random ideas the fact that my daughter and son-in-law will have their first wedding anniversary tomorrow and you have a strange mix of thoughts. At first glance, they don’t seem to be related, but I knew God was trying to tell me something. It was one of those mornings when I didn’t really know what to write in my journal so I wrote everything. I mean everything. 5 pages worth. (which explains why this post is so long, but I hope you will stick with me) Then, in some attempt to make sense of it all I went back through it to underline the high points in hopes that something would come together for me.
It did, and it’s beautiful. I’m not sure it will come across the way it played out in my brain, but I hope someone can relate. I hope someone is encouraged.
We are on a journey. Every last one of us. We’re walking through the travel part of our trip and sometimes it ‘s hard. Sometimes it’s boring. Sometimes it’s full of sleepless nights and unexpected difficulties or delays. Sometimes we feel like we are traveling through uncharted and scary territory alone and other times we feel like we are skipping through a meadow with our best friends. But make no mistake, the journey is not the destination. The destination is eternity. If we really know and trust Jesus to guide our journey, we’re headed for an unbelievable eternity that will be spent with Him. In C.S. Lewis’ book The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, we see a prophecy that was spoken over a little, but fearless mouse named Reepicheep when he was a baby.
“Where sky and water meet, Where the waves grow sweet,
Doubt not, Reepicheep, To find all you seek,
There is the utter East.”
These words set the course and the tone for his life. His sole purpose was to reach Aslans’ Land in the East (which would symbolize heaven) and he is fearless to that end – no matter what difficulties come his way. The tone of his journey was one of expectation and joy. I’m afraid my eyes are often distracted by the journey and I lose much of that expectation, passion, purpose and joy that comes with remembering where I am headed.
I’m headed for the most spectacular city ever built. Made of gems and precious stones. Perfect in every way with no crime, no pain, no fear and some awesome music. But more than that, I’m headed to a wedding. I don’t think I have ever understood with such depth what that meant as I do now that I’ve had a daughter to get married. For months previous to the wedding, we planned and organized and set things in place for the ceremony and the celebration afterwards. We thoughtfully decided on every detail so that it would be something that represented their personalities. We spent our time and resources on it. And the day before the wedding , one year ago today, I’m reminded that my friends and family all put in long hours of work and sweat to help us pull it together. All because we love our daughter and we were so excited for the marriage that was going to take place. We had prayed for this man and this day her whole life and it was our joy to make it as beautiful as possible. And what did Haley do that day? She prepared herself. She got her nails and hair done. She spent time with her friends and worked out. She made sure that a journal she had started for her husband well before she had met him was ready to hand him at the altar. A journal that expressed all the hopes and dreams and thoughts she had for him before they had ever laid eyes on one another. She probably looked at her “true love waits” ring and stood in awe that the time had come to know what that meant. All the times that she felt unloved and unnoticed didn’t matter anymore. All the nights of tears over a broken heart or unrequited love were forgotten in the joy of knowing she was about to be his wife.
And I am reminded that I am Jesus’ bride. We are his bride. The church is His bride.
Am I making myself ready?
Here we wait. On this side of eternity. Traveling closer to that destination with every inch we take through tears, laughter, joy, heartache and uncertainty. Even if we forget the destination, Jesus doesn’t forget us and He always whispers to our hearts to remember our first love. To remember that he is waiting. If I can just keep that wedding in mind, this journey, no matter how difficult, will hold within it a joy and a hope that will never fade. It will give me purpose and cast out fear as I realize I desperately want something priceless to offer my groom when I get there. A journal of sorts, written in my actions and words, something that expresses my love for Him. I long for everything I do on my way to point to that end. To look forward to what He is preparing right now. Because never forget that He is preparing a wedding and a celebration the likes of which we have never seen. A feast of every delectable food known and unknown to me. A wedding celebration that will finally bring us together and I want to prepare myself as best as I can. I want to travel this road lightly so that I can get their refreshed instead of weary. I want to make myself beautiful for Him. But even then, I realize that anything I could offer Him is only possible because of His love in my life. Even though I want to prepare myself, and should, I remember that He has already made me beautiful. And when we finally get to the end of our road, He will be standing there waiting.
Even on the hardest and most stressful days before Haley’s wedding, she didn’t doubt that CJ would be there. When people disappointed her or things didn’t fall in place I would simply say, “It’s about the marriage. It’s about you and him.” She would refocus on her love and all other things became less important. The tone of the journey would once again be excitement. And on March 2, at 4 in the afternoon, I watched two shabby doors open in the middle of a beautifully green pasture and she walked down an isle with her daddy to a man that stood staring at her with tears in his eyes . Those tears changed my view of this journey forever. I suddenly realized I am not the only one looking forward to that day.
All because God brought a Godly man into my daughter’s life, I now understand what Jesus is looking forward to at the end of this journey we are on. Me. You.
With tears of joy in his eyes I believe He will gaze at us in wonder as we walk through the doors of eternity straight into His arms and the Father will be watching with pride, love and contentment.