This post will feature an end of the semester reflection by one of our Fall ’17 study abroad students, Landon Hacker. Read the full post on his blog Landon’s Travels!
I have traveled quite a lot this semester so far. I am actually leaving again tonight to go to Oslo, Norway. The original purpose to all my travels was to see as much of the world as I can with this unique opportunity. The real question is why did I want to do this? Was it to just simply say I’ve been to all these cool places? Or was it to grow personally or spiritually in some way?
I believe that I wanted to grow personally from the extra travels I have been able to embark on. However, this desire quickly morphed into a vain attempt to simply say I’ve done things and been places. This is no good. There is no point to this endeavor. Solomon says in Ecclesiastes these fleeting desires are simply a chasing of the wind. I have realized that despite my travels thus far, I am still not satisfied. I am not happy where I am, I always want more.
1 John 2:16 says ” For everything in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life- comes not from the Father but from the world”. The pride of life is something that I think I am guilty of. It is simply having pride for things you have or have done. Whether it be Rome, Norway, or Russia, taking pride in these travels simply for the fact that I have been to these places is not a gift from God. It is something that will drive me further from him. This kind of pride is meaningless.
Solomon talks about meaningless endeavors in Ecclesiastes. After trying to pursue pleasures, wisdom, wealth, and advancing to the highest position in his society as king, he found that “everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:1). Whether I travel to every single country on earth, gain all the wealth in the world, or become the wisest man there ever was, I too will die. Death comes to the world traveler and the homebody, the rich and poor, and the wise and the fool. “For the wise, like the fool, will not be long remembered; the days have already come when both have been forgotten” (Ecclesiastes 2:16). Not only will I die, my memory probably won’t last past my great grandchildren if I’m lucky. This means all the travels, pictures, and stories of the great places I have been will die with me.
With this considered, what is the real reason to travel? After a reading of Ecclesiastes I must say the answer should change. I have learned people are only interested in my own travels for a very short time, then life goes on. The boasting and pride of my travels only lasts so long. So I can’t just travel to boast, because that will simply be a futile endeavor. I really shouldn’t travel to solely relax and have pleasure, knowledge about foreign places, or to make myself rich monetarily or in experiences. After all, all of this will go away the second I die. Solomon tells us to “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth…” (Ecclesiastes 12:1) and to “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
I believe I should do everything with a mind focused on God. I should travel not to only gain experiences to say I’ve done things and been places, but to grow in my relationship with God, my Creator. I want to marvel at the world he created for us to live in and to see how that world reveals more of his majesty and glory. To look at the mountains of Italy and Austria with an awe of a God who is so much more grand than those puny little mountains. I should form friendships with people from around the world to experience just a fraction of the relational fulfillment I will experience once I arrive in the presence of God when I die. I should look at magnificent, grand, churches with excitement. If humans can make such stunning structures, I can only imagine what God is able do when he restores Heaven and Earth. Travel shouldn’t be only for personal satisfaction that amounts to nothing more than a pride of life, but should also be heavenly focused to truly appreciate the gifts God has given us on this earth while developing a relationship with a savior that will extend past death. Don’t focus on temporary things at the expense of the eternal.
“every hundred years a little bird comes and sharpens its beak on [this mountain], and when the whole mountain is worn away by this, then the first second of eternity will be over.” From “Shepard Boy”- by Brothers Grimm