Random Thoughts While Preparing to Travel

As I write this post I’m counting down the last four three hours before leaving for Glasgow, Scotland for a ten-day visit with the farthest flung member of the Jack family. I find it interesting how much it actually takes my wife and I to get ready to travel. For some reason it can become difficult to choose what, and how much, to take, and I always seem to put off until the last hours everything that I need to do to complete my preparations to be away. And like most trips I take, sometime tomorrow I’ll discover something I forgot.

Since one of the themes God seems to be teaching me this year is to “living in the moment,” I’m seeking on this trip to be more aware of where I am, who I’m with, and what is going on in me and around me, rather than thinking ahead to the next thing to be done; or being conflicted about choices I don’t have to make yet; or being distracted by what I’ve left behind. In a sense, I’m hoping to be more a follower of the Holy Spirit as he unfolds and reveals what God has for me on each day, in each moment, of the journey.

I know that on trips like this there will be moments with little to do or to see. Those may be moments where God would have me pray, or just be quiet, or maybe I just need to notice the markers of God’s grace around me. I tend to be one who sometimes forgets to smell the romantic fragrance of the roses. Sometimes I’m too busy, or waiting for something more worthy of my enjoyment, or I’m just dense, forgetting that roses are not always in bloom.

Stay with me here, I think this will make sense. Travel tends to throw me off sync. I get out of rhythm, my routine is disrupted – especially when moving across so many time zones; and into new cultural situations. At one level it mundane. My coffee may not be at the ready when I’m used to it, my sleep is off, there’s no USA Today, and TV shows are different. On another level, being out of sync reminds me anew of things and people I value. The small (and large) gifts and reminders of God’s grace that have become so much of routine that they are forgotten. To return to the roses metaphor, out of my routine, might just see new roses, I might actually stop and smell them and enjoy them, and thank God for their beauty and fragrance. And I might just be reminded of roses in my “normal” life that I have come to take for granted. Or maybe there’ll be no roses, and I’ll come to realize anew how wonderful are the gifts of God that have been given and be reminded to cherish and enjoy them while they are present.

These random thoughts come to mind as I’m packing for my relatively short trip and reflecting on devotional reading about the exodus journey of redemption on which God took Israel all in the light of a much greater journey I am presently taking in my life – one where I don’t know the destination, or much else. I’m trying by God’s grace to enjoy as fully as I can the gifts and markers of God’s grace. And when they are gone, or I am gone, maybe the memory of those gifts will sustain me in days when they are few. But I guess that means I better take time with the roses I can smell today.

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