How to Journey Well

I can hardly believe that it has been three years since my shoes collected dust from the red dirt roads of Kenya.   The two weeks my husband and I spent there will make for a lifetime of lessons and stories bound to live far beyond our own existence on this earth.  So many times, my mind travels unrestricted by a passport, visa, or ocean instantly to Africa once more.

As for all international trips that I go on, I purchased my pocket translator for the native tongue with which I would be trying to communicate, this time Swahili.  Usually, though, I only need the tiny English to foreign language books in cases of emergencies.  Observation typically teaches me much more.

I had a bit of an upper hand on this trip because my husband’s best friend, Seth, is a native Kenyan.  I remembered when he came to visit us, before he went to bed, he said, “Lala Salama,” which means, “Sleep Well.”

When we started forming a bond with our driver, Martin, in Kenya, he taught us the word “Safiri,” which is pretty close to the word we use, “Safari.” It means, “Journey.”  We started hearing the phrase, “Safiri Salama,” and with what Martin and Seth had taught us, we didn’t even need our pocket translator to teach us that it meant, “Journey Well.”

Journey Well.  It’s beautiful, isn’t it?

The other day my mind was transported to a gift shop at the hotel we stayed at on a one night safari tour.  I had been extremely ill this leg of the trip due to a really poor decision to eat a raw piece of sugar cane that Martin, had bought with his own money as a treat for our van after I had passively mentioned that I would love to try some one day.  My savvy travel expertise instincts screamed, “DON’T eat it, Emily! You have been WARNED about eating raw foods in third world countries! DON’T do it!” But the polite side of me landed my body with some sort of a parasite that nearly made me have to miss this leg of the journey entirely.

I was still a little foggy-headed when I heard the gentleman behind the desk ask with his symphonic accent, “How long is your Safari?”

I was a bit confused by what he meant.  At that very moment, we were there on what most Westerners would easily understand to be a Safari.  You know the kind where you see elephants, giraffes, lions, and tigers.  But I also had an understanding of what the Swahili meaning for Safari/Safiri meant.  So I didn’t know if he meant “how long is your lion-watching journey?” or “how long is your trip in Africa?”

I can’t even remember which one he had meant because I was so doped up on anti-everything stomach issue related medications.  But I do remember before I left the gift shop, we exchanged blessings of, “Safiri Salama.”

Journey Well.  That’s what I hope I do in my lifetime.  That’s what I hope for you too.

But to journey well, we need all the right resources to get us down the road.

We need good shoes.  Shoes that are really sturdy, yet really comforting to our tired feet.  Shoes that help our feet travel to bring good news.

“…and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.” Ephesians 6:15 ESV

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” Isaiah 52:7 ESV

We need nourishment so that we have enough energy to walk both short and long distances.  We need it or we will grow faint and be unable to accomplish the tasks along the way to the destination to the fullest.  The nutrients from the Bread of Life offer the healthiest supplements to the soul’s diet.

Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. John 6:32-35 ESV

We need water to pour life into our thirsty souls.  It’s hard to use your voice to introduce yourself to strangers who are in need of a good word if you are parched yourself. When you’re dehydrated, your voyage comes dangerously close to ending badly.  The water we need is full of more life giving elements than the electrolytes in Gatorade. And the strength for the expedition gained from this powerful drink does not end as long as our mouths remain open to receive the life giving drops of goodness.

“Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”  John 4:13-15 ESV

We need proper rest at the end of each day’s jaunt and also after stretches of the road that bring exhaustion.  In addition to water and nourishment, our bodies and souls alike require rest to refuel and energize.  Many times, we’ll find ourselves down to the last drop, either from energy spent from being drained by others or what we pour into each leg of the itenerary.  When we rest, we renew our strength by resetting and plugging into the power of Christ and all the truth, hope, and refreshment He has to offer.

“I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8 

“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31 

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

We need to carry only the essentials. We needn’t burden ourselves with anything in our packs but the essentials.  Only the things that will make our journey a series of events that will leave our shoulders light and our the footprints clear markers directing toward the Guide of a successful soujourn are what should be contained in our rucksack.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,  faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 ESV

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:29-30 ESV

We need to surround ourselves with edifying fellow travelers. There are few things more discouraging than being stuck on a trip with a bunch of grumbling naysayers.  The key to a beautiful expedition accompanied by fellow travelers is to walk beside those who will encourage you toward your destination and help you when you may stumble along the way.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…” Hebrews 10:24

We need to use the gifts and skills that God has blessed us with.  There are gifts that God encodes into our make up before we are even born.  Often, those gifts go wasted as they either aren’t used at all or aren’t used to their fullest potential.  As we travel, these gifts become accents to daily life and can even be helpful for blessing our own migration or that of others.  Along the way, as we meet people who can also teach us different skills, we acquire trades that have the ability to help us be prepared for various challenges along the way.

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 ESV

One of the most important things to journey well is protection.  Snares, traps, and attacks are bound to come along on any pilgrimage.  Being prepared with protection is critical to seeing the passage through to the end, not just in order to finish, but to finish well.  The best way to be protected is to suit up with armor and to carry a weapon that will bring destruction to its grave.

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore,having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints…” Ephesians 6:13-18

And finally, to truly travel well, we need our very own Guide.  We need a guide who will trail blaze ahead of us and serve as our true north when we pull out our compass.  We need the one who wrote our travel guide to actually lead the way for us as we meticulously study his definitive word.  We need someone who will help us forget what may have tripped us up along the way and will sustain us to strain toward what is ahead, which is Him.  We need someone who draws us to Himself like a magnet with each stride of our quest.  We need His wisdom, His compassion, His helping hand, His protection, His provision, and His guidance.  Yes, to travel well, we’ve got to be just behind Him following in His steps. 

“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…” Hebrews 12:2a NASB

“And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19 ESV

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14 ESV

With each step that I take, each unit of energy I spend, and each breath that I draw, I want nothing less than to journey well.  How about you, my friend? Are you equipped to journey well? May I pray a simple blessing over you and me both?

Safiri Salama.   Journey well.


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