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Pack Your Bags
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Photo: Davide Guglielmo
This was it. I zipped up my black duffel bag and threw it into the back of my Chevy Blazer. I stood, anticipating the moment when I would start the car and take off on my journey. I looked around.

There was my house with the creaky wooden porch. There was the swing set with the green rubber swings and faded yellow chains. There was my family. There were my 19 years of memories. Suddenly I wasn’t as eager to drive away. I was about to leave everything I had ever known. The thought was accompanied by butterflies of excitement and arrows of fear.

After taking one last look at the place I had called home for so long, I climbed into the driver’s seat, fastened my seat belt and started on my trip to Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska.

For some, going out of state for school may not seem like a big deal, but for an Oklahoma girl who lived in the same place her entire life it was huge. Many of the people I grew up with never ventured very far from Blaine County. The thought of traveling hundreds of miles to go to school when there was a university 45 minutes away was hard for some to understand. Why was I leaving my Oklahoma sunshine for Nebraska corn? Simple: God had called me to travel.

God Had Other Plans

When I graduated from high school and began my college adventure at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, I fully intended to earn my degree in English education and stay in my home state. God had other plans.

Before my first semester was over, I began to feel God calling me to pack my bags and leave my comfort zone. My first year in college had not measured up to my expectations and I felt the need for change. What I didn’t know was how big the change would be. The call began small and gradually grew until I knew it was time to travel.

“Go”

God calls everyone to travel at some point. One of the last words Jesus spoke to His disciples before returning to heaven was “go” (Matthew 28:19). God asks us to go, pack our bags and become travelers for Him.

People who travel take risks. Anyone who has taken a trip returns home changed. The experiences with people, sights and sounds leave lasting impressions. In the three years that Jesus’ disciples traveled with Him, they were changed. In the end they weren’t the same group of rough and rowdy boys they were when they began.

Since I began my journey, I have changed. I came to Union with little self-confidence and direction. While at Southwestern Oklahoma State, I preferred to be invisible. I felt like a leaf in mid-October, floating through life, just waiting to fall. I risked coming to Union and being that invisible girl all over again.

In the two years I’ve been here, I’ve gone anything but unseen. God has pointed me in a direction I never would have expected. My experiences with studies, work, and friendships have left me believing in myself. But perhaps the biggest change in my life can be summed up in one word: joy. My travels have brought me amazing joy. This joy is pure sunshine, sweet rain and beautiful melody.

When God calls us to travel, He is calling us to change and take risks, to leave everything we have ever known. When we travel for God, whether it is across the world or across two states, we will never be the same.

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By Elizabeth Haney. Reprinted with permission from Mid-America Outlook, January 2007. Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.


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