My mom often shares memories of her first time flying on an airplane. When she was a child, everyone dressed up when going on a flight, because it was a privilege to travel by air! She had on her best attire while following her father, likely in a suit, to take a seat and prepare for take-off. I think of my own attire on my most recent flight which happened to showcase leggings, a baggy sweater, slip-on shoes, and a proper messy bun. The expectations of traveling have certainly changed.
Traveling is more accessible now than it was then. With cheaper flights, we can go anywhere around the globe! With so many methods of transportation, we can get to places more quickly. With the launch of Uber and Airbnb, we can order up a car and a home in no time. Not only do we have more access to travel, we see more people traveling within the social media realm. We are introduced to places we've never even heard of and experiences like nothing we've ever seen. The curated images lure us outside of our mundane and lead us to dream of our vacation time spent eating croissants in Europe or boating the waters of coastal Greece. We might feel a sense of urgency to see it all before the end of our lives. The desire to travel may even begin to consume us and leave us restless and discontent.
There is no mistaking the beauty that surrounds us. Scripture speaks of God's delight after creating the world, "and it was very good." (Genesis 1:31) Everything that was made - the majestic mountains, the crystal blue waters, the colors of the countryside, animals, and plants of every kind - were created through Him and for Him! Creation declares the glory of God and the work of His hands (Psalm 19:1) The beauty of this earth tells the story of a thoughtful, magnificent, and glorious God. When we breathe in the fresh air, we can be reminded of Who sustains our lungs. When we stand over before features like the Grand Canyon, Iguazu Falls, the Fox Glaciers, and Machu Picchu, we can be reminded of how truly small we are and how great and grand God is. When we taste the delicacies of different cultures, we can praise God for taste buds and delight in His diverse cultural riches. Every part of the earth is intended to lead us to worship God. We are drawn to the beauty of the world because we were created to long for the Creator of it all.
Thankfully, as Christians, we don't have to be crippled by the fear of missing out on all of God's creative wonders. We don't have to use up all of our vacation days to travel or spend our free time searching for cheap flights, making sure we get to China before the end of our lives. The beauty we see now will pale in comparison to the beauty we see in the new heavens and new earth. The world is handcrafted by God, formed by His own hands and what is revealed to us now, we will see in full grandeur then. The Venetian streets; the Irish countryside; the African sunsets; the tropical forests will pale in comparison to the earth in its redeemed and renewed state. The glorious promise of God is that in the new heavens and new earth, all things will be made new! Jesus speaks of this renewal in Matthew 19:28, "I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on His glorious throne, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." The restoring of the earth is mentioned again in Acts 3:21, "Who
It is good to value the beauty of this world, but let us never long to see the world more than we long to see Jesus. As C.S. Lewis explains "The hills and valleys of Heaven will be to those you now experience not as a copy is to an original, more as a substitute to the genuine article, but as the flower to the root or the diamond to the coal." With Him, we will see the beauty in full pointing towards the Source. Nothing of this world will compare to its Creator and when we arrive at eternity's shore, we will finally dwell in the presence of it all - in the presence of God.