This week was the 7th anniversary of one of the greatest weeks of my life. At 18 years old I was blessed with the trip of a lifetime as I spent a week in Europe on a cruise with my grandparents. I had always dreamed of seeing Rome. It homes the Coliseum, the Roman Forum and had been the beautiful backdrop in movies like Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. My family has always loved to travel whether it is down the highway to Gulf Shores or across the world to places unknown; so being able to board a Delta plane and fly to another continent was absolutely a privilege and a thrill I will never forget.
I flew to Barcelona Spain and set sail aboard the Norwegian Jewel for a grand adventure at sea. Throughout the week we visited Messina, Italy and saw the beautiful city of Taormina, Mount Etna and a huge crater we got to climb down and explore. We went to Naples where we saw the city of Pompeii and tasted gelato! I got to see my Rome and spend the day in awe imagining what it must have been like to walk the streets as Paul from the Bible did and see all that had taken place on those grounds. To see the Vatican, the Forum and the Coliseum in person and know that if I had stood there years before, my faith would have meant death was humbling.
We traveled to beautiful Florence where I got many souvenirs and saw the most amazing sunflowers in my life and Pisa where I had the best time pretending to hold the leaning tower up. And finally we saw a little glimpse of Cannes, France on our last day, not wanting it to end. I remember beautiful scenery, lots of pasta, sunsets every night and feeling the presence of God with every amazing step I took. As I write this, I look back at my three hundred something pictures with a longing to return and an appreciation for having gone in the first place. As I’ve always said, “It was a remarkable experience and a trip of a lifetime.”
And as I sit here thinking about my sentiments on this trip, I can’t help but think of Heaven and how it will be even better than a trip to Rome. We don’t like to think about Heaven in these terms because we are afraid of leaving behind our love of earthly things, but what if we had a longing to return to the presence of Jesus and truly appreciated having His love in the first place? We can’t be afraid to let go of the worldly things. We can’t be afraid to tell people about Christ—to invite them, to love them, to tell the masses of His great love. Paul said it best when he stated, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). What if we lived like Jesus on Earth and in Heaven? What if our eyes not only longed for this world and all its beautiful sights, but for a place we will spend eternity in? What if we weren’t satisfied with just existing?
C.S. Lewis once said, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about… when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
My trip to Italy and many others throughout my life were as Lewis describes a literal “holiday at sea” and I’d much rather be in that place then to be making mud pies in the slums of self love, discontentment and a world that hungers for things that do not satisfy. Let us ask ourselves today—are we fooling around in our lives, in our day to day, in our walk with Jesus or are we experiencing the infinite joy we are offered so freely? Jesus offers abundant life for all who want it. Are you living a full, abundant life or are you playing in the dirt? I don’t know about ya’ll, but I’m setting sail. Hope to see you along for the ride.
Only Hope—Bon Voyage!