“The traveler sees what he sees.
The tourist sees what he has come to see.”
― G.K. Chesterton
Whether by air, highway, water, or rail, most of us will travel somewhere this summer. As we should. Thirteenth century Persian poet, Rumi, said, “Travel brings power and love back into your life.” Sometimes we depart in order to come back with a deeper understanding. Travel gives us new eyes, and we return a different person than if we’d never left.
That should be our goal in travel–to see what God is up to in the world, not to simply bring our own perspective into a new location; to be a true traveler and not a tourist.
This should be true of life as well.
Are we traveling through the details and decisions of life, or simply touring while a guide on a bus tells us what we should see?
Before we answer this question, is listening to a guide a bad idea?
Of course not! If I travel to a historic location and hope to gain insight on significant facts and stories associated with that site, I’d be foolish not to seek out the wisdom of a guide (in fact, our family just discovered a new app called History Here that is an interactive, location-based guide we plan to use on our travels this summer).
Before modern conveniences, however, the Israelites had God as their guide:
“In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted. So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.” Exodus 40: 36-38
What a visual of His guidance! Upon recently reading this part of scripture, I found myself jealous of the Israelites. I mean, when it comes to decision making, how cool would that be to simply wait for a cloud to lift, and then just follow where it leads? But did the Israelites think it was cool? Did they appreciate the cloud and fire, or did they feel controlled? Did they even notice it after a while, or did they have their back to the tabernacle while they grumbled?
Where is our cloud and fire?
I’m willing to guess that if we could go back, and the Israelites were given the ability to view forward, they would be jealous of us. Haven’t we been given the greater gift, not in a cloud, but in the inerrant Word of God? I believe through the Bible, we are given a guided opportunity to become travelers, not tourist. I’m wise to use that “app” well before I check out my phone.
The problems occur when we come to the Bible only seeing what we want to see. Or we only sit on the bus (could be a pew) and listen to a tour guide (could be a pastor) give their account of the attraction.
As I’ve thought this through, I’m no longer jealous. I’m so very thankful that God moved out from the cloud. I’m glad He chose to walk with us as He guides us. I’m glad we’re travelers together and He offers the freedom to journey and decide, to explore and shift. We miss out on so much when we don’t travel with Him in a personal and intimate way.
So, the question remains: Are we traveling through the details and decisions of life, or simply touring while a guide on a bus tells us what we should see?
I think God wants us to travel. He wants us to find the beautiful and take it back home with us. He wants us to release some of the plans and let go of the “arrival time.” He wants us to get out in the big world, so we can remember how small we are. He wants to guide, but through walking it out together, not mindlessly following a cloud.
Where will He take you this summer? Your choice is to tour or travel…
Extra something: The amazing thing about books is that you don’t have to go somewhere to travel. With a riveting book in your hand, under a shady tree, or on a patch of lawn, you can travel wherever the pages take you. Not traveling anywhere this summer? That’s okay! Choose anywhere in the world you’d like to go, and find the book that will transport you there. Is India or the Pacific Northwest on the list? The Chance to Choose might be the perfect decision. Keep reading below…
Photo Credit: Flickr (Creative Commons)
Kim’s signature closing:
Welcome new readers, and those well loved! My blogs are focused on authentic Christianity and real life decisions. History proves that my readers interact most comfortably through an email exchange, rather than a public comment. You are always welcome to find me at email@example.com. I welcome your questions or comments and will do my best to respond in a timely manner.
My deepest desire is for you to know Jesus real. He is not just a positive thought, a model to follow, or a comfortable space to hear love. He is life. Adventure. He can be the very air you breathe with just one decision. I never knew Him until I ended up sitting on a dirty field in India. He met me there, and that gripping tale of redemption is found in my life’s work: The Chance to Choose: Become Who You Were Meant to Be One Choice At a Time. I’d love all my reader’s to know the story. It is there where you’ll understand me, and the One I serve, best. Click on printed/signed copy, or Kindle version (also available on Nook and Apple iBook) to purchase, and if you need more, check out the book trailer below: