Where are you going?

My dad never believed in having his children spend their summers at the house. It was because of his implementation of this belief, I have been able to travel and see many wonderful things in my young life. I have witnessed the sunrise over the Grand Canyon and watched as the beautiful purples, oranges, and yellows painted the canyons walls. I have watched the sunset over the Pacific ocean and stood in amazement as the sunlight was gilding the waves appeared to make a golden road leading to where the sun and earth met. I have witnessed the fall colors in all their splendor while driving through Cade’s Cove. All of these memories were made possible because my dad was willing to take the time to plan and take his family on these wonderful vacation. As I try to extend this legacy beyond my own childhood and into the early years of my own children, I must ask myself, how am I planning and where are we going?

It has become a tradition for us in our culture to take a vacation from work every year and  to travel to different locations for fun and relaxation. In order for these vacations to become reality, there are many steps in planning that need to be taken. The very first step in planning originates with the taking of our allotted time off at work. Secondly, we will begin to discuss various destinations and the manner of our travel. Where do we want to go? Will we need to fly or drive? The third step is budgeting for the cost of our adventure. We will sit down and discard the non-essentials and begin to save toward the goal of paying for the vacation. Finally, we will call, reserve the vacation, and then begins the hardest of all planning – daily itineraries.

While there may be some who actually take vacations to relax and slow down, it has been instilled into my mind that vacations are supposed to be non-stop excitement. This does not mean that we never stop to “smell the roses,” but our objective is always to accomplish as much as we can, in the little time that we have to do it. Therefore, I have learned from my dad who would meticulously plan our daily itineraries even to the point of knowing the exits for gas, food, and restroom stops. I may exaggerate a little, but this same mentality is found in my own planning. I want to know what we are doing every hour, minute, and second. This may be a burden to some, but this step is taken to ensure that our time on vacation is centered upon fun, family, and more fun!

It was while planning daily itineraries for my own upcoming vacation that I began to think about all the time spent planning for just one week of vacation. We will constantly check the weather and traffic to ensure our route is the most suitable for travel. We will have multiple backup plans ready in a moment’s notice. It is only after this type of preparation we will feel confident about the upcoming vacation, but do we have the same diligence in preparing for our spiritual destination? If we prepare so effectively for just one week, what about our eternity?

The Bible is rather clear - “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgement” (Hebrews 9:27). Death is an appointment that often comes without notice where we will be found either prepared or unprepared for our departure. Death is not like a flight, where you can always catch another one in the future, but rather it is a once and done deal. Eternity is always one heart beat away and without out diligent preparation it may come sooner than expects. Jesus taught this very point in the conclusion of His parable to the ten virgins – “Be on the alert, for you do not know the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25:13). Therefore, how well are you preparing?

While preparation may not determine the place of vacationing on earth, it means entirely where one will spend eternity. Our preparation for heaven should never be delayed by selfishly living for ourselves, but rather daily we are to die to self and live for Christ (Luke 9:23; Galatians 2:20). If we are unwilling to obey our Father’s commands, then what peace can we find that heaven will be our eternal home? Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter” (Matthew 7:21; emphasis mine, bcj). Our preparation for heaven wholly depends upon our faithful obedience to God’s commands. Therefore, we must take our preparation and obedience to God seriously, because those who disobey and do not prepare will ultimately be cast out. If planning for vacations on earth is so important, how much more then should our planning for heaven be?

When a family realizes that all their hard work and planning was worth it, they will come away from the vacation with happy memories and relaxation. While some of the daily itineraries may have been changed or rearranged, the time spent organizing and constructing their every move was essential for the overall success of the vacation. No greater joy is experienced than hearing your children light up with excitement, laughter, and joy, all because you took the time to plan a vacation. While earthly vacations can be fun, exciting, and memorable, there remains a greater country to which we all have been called. Its foundations were constructed in eternity and its architect is God. Heaven has been made attainable through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, but one must be willing to faithfully obey and prepare to be able to enter. Are you preparing for this journey? Where will you spend your eternity?