Written by Beth Richardson. Media by Cord Buchanan.
The vastness of the world alone makes it impossible to see and experience everything. There is an innate curiosity about the world because we know and understand this possibility. Because of this, when we do get the opportunity to travel, we fully invest ourselves. If we travel to a new place, we see the beauty of God’s creation and are sometimes stopped in our tracks, only able to stare in awe at everything around us. If we travel to a familiar place, maybe to a yearly vacation spot or a second visit to a country we fell in love with before, we find comfort in memories and people we shared the experience with. This is the inherent spiritual nature of traveling.
Traveling is exhilarating because we get to see parts of the world which we never have before. I have found myself all too often becoming complacent with my surroundings because I see them every day. I no longer have the awe that comes with seeing the beauty of a new place. Because of this, sometimes I have to stop and actually look around to see the beauty that does surround me every day. Illinois can actually be really gorgeous. It is in the moments of pausing that we truly begin to see God’s hand at work in the world. Sometimes it is even overwhelming to think about the immense detail that went into each aspect of this universe and it is hard not to see God in all of that.
Once we begin to see beauty in our everyday surroundings, we see how intense traveling can be for us spiritually. Seeing a landscape unveiled to us as the sun rises is far from ordinary. Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” The divinity of God is seen in everything He created because of how intricate, beautiful, and seemingly impossible it is. Paul was right in Romans—we really have no excuse not to see His hand at work.
When we travel, we often do it with others, which is a great way to build community; however, traveling alone can be just as spiritual. It allows us time for reflection and active listening as we explore parts of God’s creation that are new to us. The world wouldn’t be so vast and different if we were not meant to experience it. The Great Commission is a good place to turn to for this as well. Matthew 28:19-20 says “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” If we all stayed in our own little corners of the world, how would we learn of how other cultures worship God and vice versa? How would anyone in the world spread the gospel if we all kept to our own customs and traditions and never left home?
When we travel in a community, we learn from other people about their beliefs, we learn to trust them, and we learn our own independence within the group. Traveling is ultimately a bonding experience, whether that be to God directly or to God through sharing in each journey with others.