To maximize the potential of any trip, it is good to plan. You want to eat the best food and tour the best sites, while still getting some bang for that buck. That's why you google the place and book some events. But I've noticed that the best moments are unplanned, like exploring to find yourself lost in a maze of world-class architecture or you striking up a conversation with the local who shows you to the best place in town. Life changing moments are missed by people who are too afraid to deviate from their plan, and this principle reigns true in the Kingdom, as well. If you are tired of the mediocrity of your plans, allow God to surprise you.
God loves all the nations! He not only wants the people in your city and country to be saved, He wants souls from every "nation, tribe, people and language" to spend eternity with Him (Revelations 7:9). Cultural appreciation is super important, and we really start to grasp it as we begin to cross the borders of our comfort zone. And I say comfort zone because this lesson does not require crossing international borders (even through traveling abroad is amazing and completely worth it). Cultural appreciation starts with opening your heart to the unfamiliar, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. And this, I think can help us to live out Jesus' to love our neighbors and our enemies (Luke 6:32; 7:27).
Just one glimpse at a starlit sky, a mountaintop view, or a maritime sunset is more than enough to convince me that there is something bigger than me out there. Of course that higher power is God who the Bible says has held the oceans in His hand, measured the heavens with his fingers, and weighed the mountains on His scale. And if these things are the products of creation, just imagine the magnificence of the Creator! Even in a city, I find myself amazed by God's creation. The Lord could have made us unintelligent, unimaginative, unseemly clones of dirt, but that's not what He did! He shared with us His ability to innovate and beautify allowing us to build skyscrapers, museums, theaters, laboratories, and galleries to showcase things that ultimately point back to a ingenuity of God. I know we live in a fallen world, full of brokenness, but if you take time to look below the surface, you can still see that what God created was very good.
I know this has happened to me lots: You spend all this time sharing the most awesome experience ever, just to be left with a less than awesome response. With travel stories, that is especially common; only the people who were with you really get it. The fact is no story, no slide show, no blog post can fully capture real life. The same can be said about God. In the West, just about everybody has heard about God, seen paintings of Jesus, and even read a bit of the Bible, but far less live in the reality that God offers to each one of us. There is nothing like hearing God's voice, receiving revelation directly from the Holy Spirit, or watching the Lord miraculously answer your prayers! But still, people who don't know the reality of Jesus Christ are uninterested in such things. I used to be like that because I was settling for less. But now, I am on an real and exciting adventure with God, and I don't want it any other way.
What good would missionaries be if we didn't love to travel? To discover other nations, to fall in love with culture that is what God has impassioned us for to best share the gospel.
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