As a military family, we were very blessed to travel quite a bit. Sometimes we took a literal vacation to an area that was new to explore. Often our journeys were long car rides for the purpose of visiting extended family and friends. Moves to other locations also gave us the ability to see and enjoy places new to us.
The year before our final military retirement move, we traveled all the way out to the great state of Colorado to visit two families with whom we had become friends on separate tours in Germany. This was the first time we crossed so many state lines and spent countless days in one vehicle together. We were fortunate to own a conversion van that had quite a luxurious interior and enough space to keep all occupants at least an arm’s length apart and everyone comfortable during three long days across the country.
Among the many interesting places we passed through was St. Louis, Missouri. We did get a chance to see the mighty Mississippi up close and personal and even eat at a floating fast food restaurant. (Who would want to miss that when there are four kids in tow?) But the most memorable aspect was the famous St. Louis Arch, known as “The Gateway to the West.” We stopped to take in its imposing design. We enjoyed the surrounding park, visited the underground museum and wrenched our necks to stare up at the tall gleaming legs of the structure.
Our time at the park did not serve to create the best memory, however. It was our time in the van after our visit that continues to bring a smile to our lips. My older son had convinced my younger son that the arch was following us. As one travels in the area, that’s exactly what the arch seems to do. It is always visible, sometimes on one side of the vehicle, sometimes on the other. My second son was absolutely amazed at the arch’s ability to “move” and be right there with us. It probably took a couple years before he realized that it is only perspective and perception that cause this experience. I have the chance often to pass through that area, and I laugh every time I think back to that trip and the “roving arch.”
St Louis Arch
Something that is absolutely true and utterly amazing is the fact that God is always with us. It’s not just our perception that makes it so. In His Word He assures His followers, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5). “Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). Psalm 139:5-8 states, “You hem me in – behind and before; You have laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there.” There is no doubt that He accompanies us on our entire life’s journey. But, He also cares for us and loves us deeply so that His presence is not spent passively just watching us go by; He wields His power, extends His grace, offers His forgiveness, and brings us His redemption that we might travel this life under His care, blessed to be heading toward His heavenly home.
Each time I travel through St. Louis, the arch is eventually left behind. Each day that I travel through life, my God is with me always. He is The Gateway to Eternal Life, and it is a privilege and blessing to daily journey with Him.
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