It had been an incredible travel adventure. Our trip was much more than we had imagined or hoped for.
Now, after almost eight weeks on the road, it was time to start the long drive home. As soon as our van was headed west again, I just wanted to get home. And get there as soon as possible. I was anxious to return to the comfort and familiarity of my family and my permanent address.
One day before we were to arrive home, the conflict set in. Although I wanted to be home, maybe I wasn’t quite ready. There was still so much to see and do. I was weary of the travel yet not quite willing to give it up.
This change in attitude was confusing me. How could I reconcile my mind being pulled in two opposite directions?
On the radio came a song that spoke about resting in heaven when our work on earth is done. My conflict made sense when I could relate travel to my life on earth and going home to eternal rest and peace in heaven.
I wonder if I will experience any of this same conflict when that day comes to say goodbye to loved ones and enter my heavenly home. Will I feel ready to leave everything and everyone I know?
With only a few hours to go, I received a message from my son, asking if we would make it home that day. As soon as I read it, the earlier conflict disappeared. All I wanted was to see and hug my family.
I’m sure it will be the same when God’s son, Jesus, calls me home. There will be no hesitation as I hurry into His open arms.
“When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” (John 14:3 NLT)
Do certain names bring images to mind? Can a few words or a name produce a story in your imagination?
I found this happening on our travels as we encountered many interesting road signs. Some names not only brought pictures to mind but also had me wondering about the stories behind them. In most cases, I didn’t know the history and my mind created possible scenarios.
We passed through Kinloss and I envisioned an epidemic in the area resulting in the death of many family members. The next town was Lucknow and I thought of better days ahead.
The town of Chatsworth had me creating a more elaborate story. Maybe it was because so many places in this area had British names. In my mind’s eye I pictured Lord and Lady Chatsworth at their summer estate in this area. It was the early 1900’s and their grand balls brought aristocracy from afar to this little village.
With the absence of facts, my imagination took over with these and many other places with names that piqued my interest. Don’t even get me started on business names like Black Market Produce!
The point is how often do I hear a few words and jump to conclusions without getting all the information? Do I believe everything I hear from others or do I seek the truth?
That took me to my next thought. When others hear my name, what picture comes to mind? Have they heard a negative word or two that has them imagining the worst or do positive images take over?
The way I live my life will impact how people perceive me. If I’m not open and honest you can’t really know me and that is where the misconceptions and inaccurate stories come into play. The question is, am I willing to drop the mask and be honest?
I saw a small boat grounded on a rocky area at a bay we visited. It appeared to have been there for quite some time. The name written on its hull was Freedom 55.
This seemed ironic as Freedom 55 was the familiar slogan for being able to retire early and enjoy the so-called good life.
Many people put their trust and hope for the future in monetary investments. They think if they have enough money they will be happy and secure.
These same people find their lives on the rocks when the stock market takes a downturn and their hard-earned investment portfolios fail them. The assurance they counted on for a comfortable future is now gone.
I don’t want to imply that money isn’t necessary but I do know from firsthand experience that it can also promote a false sense of security. Been there, done that, have the battle scars to prove it. My goal is to never be a slave to money again.
My security is not determined by the amount of assets I hold. My freedom comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. My hope for the future is rock solid because I know Jesus will never turn his back on me. He sees my true value and I am guaranteed to spend eternity with Him.
Do you have that security? It’s the only one that won’t leave you stranded.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 NIV
My husband and I enjoy visiting farmer’s markets and speaking to the vendors. We always find it interesting to learn about why they are producing and selling their products.
During our travels, we heard several stories that inspired us with their passion. These were the people we wanted to support with our purchases.
One woman had moved far from home to take a high paying job. She worked hard, saved her money and after several years was able to move back to her small hometown with the funds needed to start her own business. The dairy-free cheese and dips she made were delicious. She told us of many trials before the recipes were perfected. Now she was producing a product that was filling a need. She was passionate about what she did and it showed.
Another woman had a small vintage trailer in a market parking lot. We commented on her trailer and were treated to a little of her life story. Michele had a mother fighting cancer. She realized life is too short to be unhappy so took early retirement. Her retirement fund was spent purchasing and fixing up the trailer and doing some bucket list travelling. Now she was doing what she loved, making crafts and selling them at markets. She had a passion for life and living it to the fullest.
These were only two of the stories we heard. Both women had to make sacrifices to follow their dreams. Both told us how much happier they were now they were living with passion and purpose.
When I live with passion, I am better able to support and encourage others wanting to do the same.
Do you have a dream you’d like to follow? What would it take for you to live a life of passion? How can I encourage you?
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain
The area we stopped in for the night was under a heavy rainfall advisory.
The forecast for the areas we’d be traveling in over the next couple of days didn’t look good so we decided an early start in the morning would be our best option for getting ahead of the weather.
Long before daylight we were on the road again. An hour later, we came to a complete standstill. All we could see in the darkness was a long line of tail lights ahead of us.
We turned the motor off and waited for things to start moving again. The night faded into morning light. A cold wind permiated the van and we got blankets from the back to wrap around us.
When we heard a washout had occurred ahead, we knew we could be there for hours. Since there was nothing we could do but wait, we decided to make ourselves comfortable. We moved to the back of the van, turned the furnace on and relaxed. After playing a couple of games of cribbage we made lunch.
Instead of stressing about the delay, I wondered what God was protecting us from by holding us back. We were safe, warm and had food, water and a bathroom so knew He was taking care of us. Later we learned of jackknifed semis and multiple accidents due to icy roads.
Almost five hours later a police car came by to announce the road was open to one lane traffic and we could proceed. I was surprised to find that the actual washout was 140 km from where we had been stopped.
This situation reminded me how God uses what I think of as delays in my life. He provides what I need to stay safe while He works to clear the road in front of me. Sometimes the work is done much farther ahead than I realize.
My role is to be patient and trust that God has everything under control.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,and lean not on your own understanding ” Proverbs 3:5 NLT
The ever changing conditions during our ten hours on the road seemed to me like a metaphor for life.
The morning started out misty, with low clouds hugging the hillsides. Splashes of colour visible between the clouds provided a welcome contrast to the greyness surrounding us.
Soon we encountered pouring rain and poor visibility. The view around us became obscured.
In the distance I could make out the faint outline of rolling hills. Then, muted colours appeared. As we neared, I saw the vibrant hues of fall foliage. The beauty was a reprieve amid the overcast skies.
I was aware that the colour had been there all along. It had just been hidden from view by the storm we were passing through.
In early afternoon the sun broke through. We thought our drive would now be more pleasant. Instead, we were faced with a new challenge as strong headwinds seemed determined to hold us back. We fought through them and kept going.
The highway turned and the wind attacked from another direction. It became a cross wind that tried to blow us off course. Strength and determination helped us hold onto our bearings.
We persevered and after a long day of driving, reached our destination. Our journey would continue the next day.
We had no idea what would be in store for us the following day but two things were clear. The challenges we faced today not only made us stronger but have also given us a deeper appreciation for the smoother days when they come.
Where in the last week did you see God at work? This is an interesting and thought provoking question.
Was it in your life or that of another? Maybe an unexpected contact with someone gave you a much needed boost. What if this wasn’t a chance encounter, but one orchestrated by God? I have received several blessings like this in recent days.
I have also seen God at work in the beauty of His creation. The greatest artist of all time has painted the trees with spectacular colours. Judging by the number of other leaf chasers with cameras busy capturing the images, many appreciate His handiwork. I wonder how many stopped to thank God for this colourful display.
A more personal example of God at work in my life happened yesterday. Our van started acting up and the check engine light came on. This is not welcome at any time but much worse in an unfamiliar area on the Sunday of a long weekend.
We prayed about what we should do and the Lord led us to a location just off the highway where a mechanic was on duty. Soon we had the diagnosis of a faulty sensor and were able to be on the road again with peace of mind. Our immediate reaction was to thank God for taking care of us.
There are many more stories I could tell you about God at work in my life. When I look back, I see His fingerprints everywhere. They will be in your life, too. Often they are spoken of as good luck or happy coincidences. They are much more than that.
I ask you to reflect on the past week and give thanks for what God has done in your life. I’d love to hear some of your stories.
“Now, our God, we give you thanks and praise your glorious name.” 1 Chronicles 29:13 NIV
We didn’t have to see the dead skunk on the side of the road to know it was there. The stench remained with us even after we’d passed by.
Another day we were walking along a sidewalk in an unfamiliar town when the mouth watering aroma of freshly baked bread drew us closer. Before we knew it our noses led us right to the bakery. Of course we had to go in and discover for ourselves if the taste was as good as the smell. It was!
These are two extreme examples, it I’m sure you get the message. Smells matter. Some, like the skunk make me want to get as far away as possible. Others, like fresh baking invite me closer.
This reminds me that I need to be aware that my attitude and the words I speak also have a distinctive smell.
When I display love and understanding, my life has a pleasing aroma to others. If, on the other hand, I exhibit anger, resentment, complaining and gossip, my stinky attitude will cause people to stay as far away from me as possible.
Even when faced with life’s challenges, I need to be aware of this and stop to ask myself, “How do I smell today.”
I experienced one of the most profound moments of my life while on vacation this summer. My husband and I were at the Bay of Fundy and saw the bay full of water at high tide. At low tide we were able to walk amid the rocks and shells on the ocean floor.
This experience moved me to tears. At first I couldn’t understand why it was having such a deep impact on me.
The farther out I walked, the more I thought of the biblical story where God parted the waters of the Red Sea. The Israelites faced certain doom from the Egyptians pursuing them. God intervened and saved them by dividing the sea to enable them to cross on dry land. He then closed the waters, destroying their pursuers. First came trust in God to do the seemingly impossible, then came the miracle that saved them.
Walking on the sand in this bay that was filled with water just a short time earlier, reminded me of the times God has done something miraculous and unexpected in my life. He may have saved me from self-destructive behaviour or other dangers, but I know when I come to Him in complete faith and trust, He will take care of me. He always has and always will.
The visit to the Bay of Fundy was a powerful reminder of my personal Red Sea experiences.
“And as for you, lift up your staff and extend your hand toward the sea and divide it, so that the Israelites may go through the middle of the sea on dry ground.” (Exodus 14:16 NET)