I spent the better part of this week in Orlando for our national conference. Although we stayed at this lovely hotel on the grounds of the Universal Studios theme park, we didn’t have time to set foot near any rides–too busy with meetings all day. No sign of Mickey Mouse either. We did, however, enjoy some fine dining, including one of my favorite restaurants on the planet.
Whenever I return from an extended trip, it always takes me a couple of days to catch up, not only on laundry and grocery shopping, but on email, mail and the news, not to mention everyone’s blog. Taking a break from my normal routine is good for a couple of days, but I’m always ready to get back to it. Even though I usually bring my Bible and journal along on trips, it’s still a challenge to make time for devotions on the road. That’s when I realize that my devotion life has become more about being part of the routine, rather than responding to a craving for time alone with God. In the times when I really look for God outside of my routine, I am often blessed by extraordinary times of worship.
Some of my most memorable non-routine devotion times have been when I’ve been traveling. I remember another work trip to Orlando several years ago (with a different employer) when we arrived a day early to spend time at Disney World before our conference began. It was a Sunday morning, and my co-worker and I headed to the Animal Kingdom, which was relatively new at the time. Back home, I would have naturally been at church, but this particular Sunday, miles from home and my routine, I found myself on the animal safari ride. It was a beautiful sunny day, and as the ride progressed, animals emerged–tigers, lions, giraffes, monkeys, exotic birds. I began to sing to myself, “This is my Father’s world…” and it was. There, in the middle of this man-made savannah, I was surrounded by God’s creation in a way that I had never before experienced. And I worshiped.
Other memorable worship experiences have taken place at the beach. Taking communion at midnight on the beach, watching the starry sky above and listening to the waves crash upon the shore, I was reminded of God’s awesome power and control.
Routine is a good thing, and a necessary thing to large degree. But sometimes getting away for a little while helps me see God in fresh and exciting ways. The challenge, of course, is returning to a routine without letting my devotion time become just another part of the ritual.