I have never been much of a traveler. Many of my friends from college and even high school have been to more countries than I have cities. My biggest trip was to Marietta, Georgia the summer after sixth grade. My second biggest trip was later that year when my grandpa took my brother and I to Disneyland for Christmas. In fact that was actually the last time I’ve ever flown on a plane. And no, I have never left the country before.
If there ever were one country I would want to go to – even if only for a day or two – it’d be England. Many of my favorite authors either lived there or still live there and I’m a recent Whovian and Sherlock convert (I have yet to meet anyone who was a fan of one, but not the other; hardly think it’s even possible). And of course, James Bond is among my favorite movie series. All of this, mind you, has been true for a while – yes, before Sherlock and Doctor Who.
If you had told me three weeks ago that I’d be accepted for an all-expenses-paid two-week trip to the Logos Conference in Oxford this summer, I would not have believed you. And yet, after only a week and a half of waiting, I have been invited to attend. For two weeks we’ll be listening to lectures on Oxford, scholarship, current issues in textual studies, as well as touring the University and even a few bits of London (small things like the British Museum and the British Library). It’s an opportunity that I could never have dreamed up.
What has come to mind in the wake of receiving such an invitation, though, is where I was a year ago. I was still living in Eugene, working a part-time job, and finishing up seminary applications. As I was writing those applications, though, I was nervous about the changes to come. I was nervous because I had a lot of wonderful things going for me in Eugene: my job (despite part-time hours), my roommate, my church – all were going really well and I was enjoying every bit of it. I hesitated in submitting those seminary applications – although briefly – because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to give all those things up.
And yet if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be going to Oxford.
At George Fox University this weekend is the 2014 Faith and Culture Writers Conference. And although I could write about each of the five speakers from last night, Deidra Riggs’ words ring most relevant to me this week. She talked about a day when she was prompted by God to “come a little closer” – a process that led her from her couch to a frozen stream where she witnessed a sign of Spring’s arrival. If she had never left her couch to “come a little closer,” she would never have had that unique opportunity to experience God’s creation.
In a similar way, if I hadn’t “come a little closer” by leaving familiarity and comfort in Eugene, I would never had this opportunity to experience another country – one of my favorites, nonetheless!
My take away from it all is that God seems to surprise us with opportunities we didn’t know we even wanted. Yet this only seems to happen after we’ve moved in faith. It doesn’t need to be a literal move from one city or school to another; but after we’ve decided to act in faith.
Where, in your own setting, do you feel God is drawing you to “come a little closer”? A new school? City? Or simply walk to a frozen stream?