Adonai will guard your going and coming now and forever. (121:8)
Travel makes us vulnerable. When we leave the security of our homes, we are at the mercy of a means of transportation which might break down, get stuck in traffic, get in an accident, or be delayed by weather. It is no wonder that the traveler prays that God will protect him from missing connecting flights, losing a passport, being robbed, or getting sick. Even the occasional traveler has been stranded overnight, has had to find a place for emergency auto repairs, or has gotten lost in a strange city.
It seems that God doesn’t so much protect us from inconveniences as much as give us the emotional stability to withstand them and the mental ingenuity to work around them. With the right frame of mind, most travel inconveniences can be seen as adventures. It is the thrill of extending the trip for an extra day, having the chance to see a new part of the city, and embracing the opportunity to focus on the journey rather than the destination.
If the destination is the only thing that matters, how many wonderful things will we miss on the journey? Traveling to Chicago to catch a plane to Minneapolis for my father’s funeral, I saw an amazingly beautiful sunset over Lake Michigan. The sun was a pillar of fires shooting up to the densely clouded sky, like a brightly lit path for my father’s soul on it’s journey upward. It was peaceful and calming. God was with me at that moment, calming my anxiety at the outset of a very long (and delay-plagued) trip.
In the airport, I found a quiet spot to write a tribute to my father. A close friend called. I spoke with my wife. I sent text updates of my delays to my cousin. ‘Pick me up at 11:45 pm.’ ‘Delayed until 12:30 am.’ ‘Mechanical problems … See you at 1:00 am.’ ‘Waiting for a new plane to arrive.’ ‘On the plane ready to take off, scheduled to arrive at 2:00 am!’ I never felt alone or abandoned or panicked because I had complete confidence that one way or another, I would arrive in Minneapolis in time for the funeral.
The journey home had a delay as well, giving me the chance to spend more time with my mother and sisters as well as catch up with some cousins that I had not seen for several years. The hiccups in my travels inconvenienced a number of people, to be sure. But in the end I arrived safely at every destination. Thank God.