It’s always a delight to go away, and always a joy to return home. Our family ranks have thinned after driving most of the day in three vehicles to leave vacation-mentality behind and get back to the routine.
Our England family will spend tonight flying over the Atlantic, crossing back over six time zones to undo what they worked so hard to do last week. Birgitta is back at her university, and our Florida family will leave Friday to fly south. The rest of them will be back at their jobs tomorrow morning, and our vacation will officially be over. All good things must come to an end.
Tonight everyone is tired. Sitting in a car all day (and stopping for greasy meals) brings a feeling of sluggishness. But of course there was unloading, sorting through debris, and the inevitable questions: “Did we unpack the coffee yet? Has anyone seen my camera cord? Where are my keys?”
But extraordinary memories have been made… lots of them. At dinner last night, still in the Northwoods, we recounted a few highlights of our week together. Lots of fishing, including a couple of big ones that got away. Beautiful scenery outside every window. A mirror-like lake, reflecting colorful leaves. Babies, babies, babies! Laughter galore. Simple meals. Good golf. Stimulating conversation. And my favorite, family harmony.
I am bowled over by my children and their winsome ways with each other. What a pleasure to see each tending to the needs of the others. Tasks were shared, and I didn’t witness one incident of friction. How is this possible with 15 people living in close quarters for seven days?
I give the credit to Nate. (1) He originally found Afterglow Lake and established the annual tradition of vacationing in northern Wisconsin. (2) Being there this week evolved only as a result of his death. (3) He was a tireless promoter of family togetherness. (4) His provision for us paid this week’s bills. (5) We “heard” him frequently as we quoted him, retold his stories and shared favorite memories.
As the week went by, over and over again the kids said, “Thanks, Mom, for providing this trip for all of us.”
But the accurate response was, “Papa provided it, not me.”
This week I gave each of the kids a copy of Randy Alcorn’s book HEAVEN, and their readings from it prompted interesting and inviting discussion about Nate’s “vacation” to paradise. Knowing God had that joyous “trip” ready for Nate exactly when he needed it and also has it prepared for the rest of us gets us excited to go.
Heaven will be superior to any earthly vacation imaginable, and we won’t even have to pack for it. Better than that is we won’t have to unpack or do piles of laundry or wonder where everything is at the end of the journey, because there will be no end.
This trip will last forever!
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)