“A strong desire to travel.”
It all starts with a simple idea involving a map, perhaps a fantasy of “seeing the world”, a Google search, and a passport application.
Perhaps a dream of living overseas or working on a cruise ship is spun from reading travel blogs and magazines or photos of exotic or far-away places…
Because the mere “desire” to travel will never satisfy, the dream (usually) begins to transform into reality through saving, planning, and packing.
It becomes real with the first stamp in your passport and the thrill of crossing a border or flying over the Atlantic Ocean.
You can finally taste, smell, and hear the “reality” as you “arrive” at your destination and walk along the streets amidst the locals who are speaking an unfamiliar language and eating foods that are very foreign to your taste buds. You become immersed in the culture and are surrounded by new sights and sounds and may even feel the climate and temperature difference on your skin.
Fourteen stamps later and the possibilities become greater, not less. The feeling only becomes stronger the more you feed it, like any other addiction. Some addictions are simply more socially acceptable than others, perhaps even admired.
Is it true that “not all those who wander are lost”? Or, have we gone astray by thinking that it’s okay to wander and even lust, as long as the lust is after wandering?
Isn’t it ironic that we could actually end up “going to the nations” not to preach the gospel or make disciples for Christ but to satisfy our lust to wander? After all, it’s really not that difficult to save enough money for tickets to “go”. Somehow, we all hope to “find ourselves” by getting lost rather than seeking others who are lost.
If I have learned anything from my own travels and life in Asia for the past two years, it is that one is more likely to “lose oneself” in another country, especially if one’s life is not built on a solid foundation. Even the heart of the wisest man who ever lived, King Solomon, was “turned away after other gods” due to compromise with the ways of other peoples and nations. [1 Kings 11:4]
It is often not the desire to do evil, but curiosity, that gets us into trouble; and I’m guessing that the majority of people struck by “wanderlust” are curious and inquisitive, as one speaking from personal experience.
However, about a year ago, I had a change of heart. I began to desire more for “the world to see” than “to see the world”. Nevertheless, I would still find it difficult to resist a fully-paid plane ticket to another new destination.
I believe some desires can be God-given as long as they are driven by purpose and not by pleasure; after all, the Kingdom of God is NEVER just about us.
I’m not telling you that I think it would be better to stay at home if you feel the “wanderlust” tugging at your heart, because being too comfortable where you are might be just as destructive as traveling to collect stamps in your passport.
I suggest praying about it and going with a purpose, on a mission, an outreach, or even as a volunteer. Go, as long as you can, and if you feel called to do so. Then, consider staying, serving, learning the language and loving the locals, keeping in mind that the world needs open hands much more than it needs open minds.
You might even be surprised to find more joy in purpose than you could ever find through pleasure-seeking.
And remember, at the end of the day, “we are strangers before [God], and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding.” [1 Chronicles 29:15 KJV]
Or as C.S Lewis put it:
“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”