I used to want to be a missionary. When I was at university, every summer I would go to a different developing country to help however I could. The first time I went overseas just for a holiday, it felt kind of selfish. I was used to making my trips as meaningful as possible, so I wasn’t sure whether a holiday for my own enjoyment would be a good use of resources.

Since then I have realised that God is also with me in my times of rest (what a surprise!). In the process, I have experienced the beauty, holiness, purpose and healing of rest and adventure. It has formed part of a larger theological shift in my life from legalism and striving to freedom and grace.

St Irenaeus is misquoted as saying, “The glory of God is man fully alive.” Whether it was him or urban legend, the concept resonates with me.

God has created rest, adventure, and beauty for us to experience, and travelling can be an opportunity to immerse ourselves in those things. This is how God has used travel to reveal himself to me.

Rest and healing

As we walked up the stone stairway and turned a corner, the view took my breath away. The canyon of yellow stone that gives the park its name carved a rugged pathway to a waterfall in the distance. I was overwhelmed by the greatness of nature and the frailness of man.

I had just finished a life chapter that left me feeling insignificant compared to others. But in that moment I knew that everyone is small, which was a comforting and healing thought. Travelling can be a great way to end one chapter before starting another. The key is to know where you find rest or healing—nature or urban discovery, being active or being still—and choosing the right travel companions.

Adventure and faith

Being a natural planner, I enjoy having everything booked and in a spreadsheet before I hop on the plane. But the best things that have happened to me while travelling were unplanned. From staying in a log cabin and having bear meat for lunch, to seeing the world’s tallest filing cabinet, to hitchhiking around Europe, spontaneity allowed for chance encounters through which I grew.

There is a place for preparation but also a place for stepping out of our comfort zones. This has taught me to listen and to learn how to give up my need to be in control.

For others, planning might be out of their comfort zone. Travel is one way to stretch ourselves and practice trusting God.

Beauty and mountaintops

Life can be hard. Haha, just kidding … life is hard. But it’s not all hard, and sometimes we need to remember that. I am convinced that God has given me some over-the-top awesome experiences as reminders of his goodness and his abundant generosity. I’ve been blown away by his provision and blessing, and these mountaintop experiences have given me perspective during subsequent valleys. The brightness and freedom and joy we have tasted remind us that no valley lasts forever, and one day we will be on the eternal mountaintop.

God has used travel to remind me that he is good, and that I do not need to fear life. I do not need to control everything; I can trust him. I can ask him to blow my expectations out of the water; colours, flavours, people, starry skies and all other expressions of beauty in this world point to the Creator.

There is a time for sacrifice and a time for rejoicing, a time for structure and a time for freedom, a time for work and a time for rest. Here’s an encouragement, if you struggle with feeling like the work is never done: God created this great, wild, beautiful world for us, and then God rested.

Enjoy his world, enjoy his rest.

Carina is a 30-something office-dwelling adventurer with too many hobbies.