When Nate and I had been married for three years, Nelson was on the way, and we knew life was about to change radically. So when I was six months pregnant, we decided to take a trip to Italy, figuring it might be our last chance. It was just the two of us, although technically Nelson came, too.
We rented a little Renault and roamed the country for two weeks, from Rome to Milan, having the time of our lives. As we left, we vowed to return.
Nate had been a history major in college, and he never met a fact he didn’t memorize. His knowledge of world history lit a flame of desire to travel to the places he’d studied as a student, but everyday commitments (and his big family) gave him a different journey. In recent years, however, time to travel began coming into focus.
Then his health failed.
Gradually he realized his dream to visit historical sites wasn’t going to come true. He said, “Even though I never got to go to the places I’d hoped, at least my kids have seen the world.” He was referring to the five who’d been on mission trips, several of them literally circling the globe.
I feel sad he missed out on so much and wish I’d worked toward at least one historical tour. Our good friend Erwin Lutzer leads tours in Europe, and one of them had a strong pull for Nate: the Reformation Tour.
He talked longingly about that itinerary, hoping to go. Having grown up in a Lutheran Church, he’d read much about and by Martin Luther and actually knew the contents of the 95 theses. He would have relished seeing the church where they had been presented.
This morning as I thought about Nate’s unmet travel goals, God sent immediate comfort in an interesting way. Out of “the blue” came this thought: “You can stop bemoaning that Nate never took the Reformation Tour, because he knows Martin Luther personally now and has gotten the whole thing directly from him.”
How silly of me, dreaming about earthly pleasures for a heaven-dwelling Nate! That’s like bouncing a five year old on my knee and saying, “Now isn’t that much better than Disneyland?”
Many years ago I taught our little children to sing the Sunday school chorus, “My God is so BIG!” They internalized the message easily, ascribing all the good parts of “big” to God, with childlike faith. If we adults would enlarge our view of the Lord and his kingdom, we’d spend much less time regretting and much more anticipating.
So as good a guide as Pastor Lutzer is, I think Nate has probably lost interest in joining his Reformation Tour.
”Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they are blessed indeed.” (Revelation 14:13b)