I love airports.
There's a thrill that comes from going through security, from purchasing that overpriced magazine to halfheartedly flip through in the hour before I board, and from rolling my suitcase down the moving walkway and feeling like I'm walking on water.
Is it obvious that I've spent a lot of time in airports?
I grew up with parents who were basically short-term missionaries: we traveled often as my mom and dad led high-school students on mission trips all over the world. I never had a huge fear of riding an airplane (although I hated when my ears popped). In fact, the time in the airport and on the plane was always my favorite part. My stomach filled with butterflies, and I was giddy with excitement and anticipation for a new adventure.
My parents' traveling bugs have bitten my brother and me. As I write this on a bed covered in miscellaneous traveling necessities, my packed suitcase sits in the corner of my eye, waiting in anticipation for Thailand and Cambodia.
I will sit in one of those airplanes I love so much for 17 hours. 17 hours flying over two oceans, dozens of countries I've yet to visit, and a couple billion people who haven't experienced the love of Jesus yet.
For six months, I've been sitting in my own "airport", watching people arrive and leave in my life as they make the journey to their own destinations. I've been praying for God to prepare my heart as my team and I work with victims of child trafficking in both Thailand and Cambodia. I've imagined what my two weeks overseas will be like, and I have thought of all the good and bad scenarios that could occur: so far, the worst that could happen is my plane falling from the sky, and even the end to that is me seeing Jesus forever. I promise I'm not a pessimist.
Most of all, I've been curious about what this will do to the rest of my life. How will my worldview be impacted by what I see? Will this change what I want to do career-wise? Am I over-thinking, as usual?
The thing is, though, that I have already been changed by the trip before I have even left. I had to trust that God would provide $3,500 through the incredibly generous people in my life. I grew in my patience skills during the several months before departing; I've shared before how much I suck at waiting.
One of the biggest lessons that I have learned, though, is the idea that this waiting time before I board is just as important for my heart as the time my feet walk on Thai "land" (writing that made me laugh aloud). There's that cliché statement that "it's not about the destination; it's about the journey", and there's a big part of me that agrees.
We often put our destinations on pedestals all the while forgetting about the paths it takes to get us there. It's like hiking: yes, the view at the end will be great, but the journey to the end is just as good. Our journeys teach us lessons for our destinations. If we're too busy thinking about where we will end up, we miss out on where we are.
At the same time, though, we should not discount our destinations. Thailand will be more than I can imagine, but it's not the end of my journey. Rather than thinking of our destinations as the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, we should think of them as stepping stones across the river of life.
Oh boy, that sounds cheesy, but picture it: when we stop seeing our destinations as "final" destinations and more as layovers before our next stop, our eyes are opened to the countless opportunities God gives us to grow. From one stone to another, we move forward in God's direction.
I heard the Holy Spirit calling me to Thailand and Cambodia, and like Isaiah, I said, "Here am I, Lord. Send me!" What stepping stone is God calling you to next? Are you ready for the journey? Rest in His provision and His guidance. Sometimes, the journey is overwhelming, but in the big picture, our eternal destination is so worth it.