“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you.
You have to go to them sometimes.” ― (Pooh’s Little Instruction Book, inspired by A.A. Milne)
I was 18 when God wrote Scotland into my story.
A punk first year college kid, I sat listening to speakers talk about the whole wide world needing Jesus and inviting me on a grand adventure.
Who could resist that combo?
So the following summer I boarded a jet plane at Detroit metro and landed at Gatwick Scotland 13 hours later.
And the next 7 weeks, they plot twisted my story– for always.
My assignment was to organize and teach Vacation Bible School. But life is always more multi-faceted than task. And as we do the job God sets before us, He multiplies it so that it matters beyond the scope of productivity. I performed my duties that summer, but the real Kingdom impact was in the cross-cultural relationships formed.
God tattoed an affection for that beautiful place and it’s people right smack dab over my heart.
And in His providence, a friendship was preserved.
Handwritten letters with postage stamps crossed the ocean in bubble wrapped envelopes with personal playlists recorded onto homemade cassette tapes.
And then there were annual phone calls around Christmastime to bridge the gap.
We both got married and introduced each other to the ones we love best, expanding the bond of friendship.
Then 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 trips back and forth passed between us, hospitality given and received. Until we were all in over our heads raising children, establishing careers, doing life these past seventeen years.
Thanks to the USPS and the Royal Mail, brown paper packages continued arriving on our doorsteps. And our kids all grew up reading each other’s favorite storybooks, assembling geographical puzzles of foreign lands and eating plenty of shortbread biscuits. Then Skype opened up a whole new way to connect between families until finally, last year, we dreamed big, imagining trip number 8 in 2017.
And a few weeks ago, my biggest girl, the all-grown-up one, and I, we boarded a Dreamliner and puddle jumped the Atlantic overnight, off on another grand adventure.
Next thing you know, we sat in their cozy Scottish home feasting on the nourishment of food and friendship, plus a good cup of tea. And he pulled out the original archaic cassette tape, the first one I sent in a bubble wrapped envelope.
And it actually still worked!
Christian contemporary classics like Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith, I introduced him to them. And that music, it served as a compass pointing due north at God’s truth and love right there in the middle of his teenage story. And as I listened to those golden oldies, I felt the tears stinging right behind my eyes because when you’re about half a century plus one and reflecting back on all of the broken-beautiful of your story, it’s a gift of grace to be reminded that your life has made a difference.
So we spent a week making new memories together, all five of us.
Savoring the moments.
Sharing an abundance of laughter.
And that 14 year old DJ who doubled as a first aid expert, well, don’t go on a road trip without one of those.
My oldest, the daughter-friend, we hiked up hills and stared down valleys.
We trekked up in sunshine and down in rain.
We walked over bridges and built them at the same time.
She shared in my story and we dreamed of what hers might yet be.
And that fire, the same one God lit under my metal chair at missionary conference in 1985, He fanned the spark inside her too.
Her mind is synced with God’s truth.
Her soul is secure in God’s love.
Her feet are shod with the gospel of peace.
And her heart is set on adventure.
And there’s a thrill to the mystery of all that’s yet undiscovered because God doesn’t write any bad stories. None of the words are wasted and there aren’t any blank pages at the end of our book when He calls us home.
When we packed up our suitcases at the end of the week, memories were our favorite souvenirs. Then she and I, we walked toward airport security to catch our return flight, passports in hand and he called out, “Don’t make it another seventeen years or you’ll be 68.”
And I smiled as I set my shoes in a plastic bin to pass through x-ray screening because
A lifetime’s not too long to live as friends.