Christian Living, Marriage, Travel

Is Wanderlust Your Hidden Idol?

Are scenic photos taking over your Pinterest feed? Do you long to escape to foreign lands? When Rachel of the Bible left her home with Jacob, she stole and hid idols of foreign gods. Wanderlust could be your secret god. It was for me. Here’s my story.

The Travel Craving

I was going to see the world! The wonders of the world were not simply on my bucket list, but my complete life dream. I was about to journey to Guatemala for a short-term missionary trip, and in the summer months I would assist a health project in Peru. My wanderlust was finally being quenched.

That was college sophomore Dani. Restless and ready, eager to experience what she had only sighed over in magazines. Today I laugh, because my past zeal reminds me of the character George Bailey in the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. My eyes filled with dreams, but blind to the beauty of reality.


Wanderlust Gone Wrong

The issue was I never honestly asked myself: Why? Why do I want to see and explore all these things? Occasionally I gave reasons in my mind: well, to have adventure and challenge myself and hopefully help others along the way. 

When fellow Christians would ask me, I would add God into the equationI want to admire God’s creation, maybe share the Gospel in dark places, and serve peoples wherever He takes me. I want to travel… for the glory of God, of course! 

Looking back, it is so clear. Travel, my idealistic career, was an idol. Instead of diving deeper into the love of my Savior, I was drifting away from Him, valuing earthly pleasures.

The lust of my eyes may have not been for a man, but it was still for things created (Romans 1:25), a wanderlust. This took away from my ability to fully surrender my life to my Creator. Sure I was serving in ministry, and loved Jesus and Christian community, but the essence of who I was as a believer had not yet been realized. I wasn’t being real with myself.

I didn’t feel called to travel because of missions. I felt called to travel because of my personal obsessions with things of this world. I wanted to establish my own steps, giving God no room to work. But He worked anyway, in spite of my sin.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:15-17

My friends and me in Thailand.

Divine Intervention

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand. Proverbs 19:21

With me, my faith in Christ was present, but my dreams misguided – I didn’t realize my “good works” were for personal gain and not God. Another issue was that I wasn’t even willing to let a man walk in. Today is Valentine’s day, and as you may know, I have an amazing husband who I was so blessed to celebrate it with. But only a few years ago, the thought of having a boyfriend stressed me out. That’s right.

Although I was like every ordinary girl who desired a romantic relationship someday, having a boyfriend in college was not my plan. And if I was going to have one, he had to be perfect. I was supposedly meant to travel the world – no one was going to stop me. Can you relate?

The Lord, however, had His faithful agenda. Love happened when I wasn’t looking for it. I’ve realized from my own story and other women’s that this seems like a common occurrence, another form of God’s grace. Once you trust the Lord with singleness, your heart is ready for a self-sacrificing relationship. This could mean marriage, or it could mean a marvelous unmarried life of service for others.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

Funnily enough the Lord used Isaias, my brother in Christ, to shake me back to the roots of faith. I saw Isaias’ passion for God’s Word, and I fell in love with it again. I rejected Isaias repeatedly because of my own fears and pride, but saw God’s forgiveness and patience when Isaias continued to show himself as a trusted friend.

I almost let Isaias go, as many of us do with the Lord when sin takes over, but the Lord wouldn’t let go of me. To be honest, I was afraid. I knew Isaias was a man of God, but I knew if I said yes to a relationship to him that I would have to let go of my worldly “dreams.” Isn’t that a crazy mini-reflection of what it means to accept a relationship with Christ, to give our life to Him?

One day, after an intense encounter with a nonbeliever, Isaias comforted me – despite the fact that I had said no to a relationship with him a few weeks ago. I was shocked by my spiritual weakness, and also at Isaias’ unrelenting love. I had to not only seriously look at this godly man, but my salvation. It was time to work it out in fear and trembling.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13

God brought me to repentance, to me knees, and asked: Are you willing to surrender, to submit? Not just to Isaias as his future wife, but ultimately to My will? 

Not trying to be overdramatic, but my eyes were really beginning to open! I was ready to serve the Lord again, and also ready to have close fellowship with a man who would always point me to Him.

The Road to Change

To be clear, despite the start of my relationship with Isaias, in the months that followed I still struggled with my travel lust. I went to Peru, and later to Thailand, to make sure that the Lord did not want me to serve Him abroad. For traveling in itself is not evil, but the motivations can be.

Both of my abroad experiences were full of trials, time and time again exposing the emptiness of traveling purely for self. The Lord taught me much about Himself, His sovereignty over all lands, and mankind’s desperate need for His Gospel. In the end, He revealed to me the loyalty and love I have for Isaias, and His desire for me to serve alongside Isaias in ministry.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

All in all, now I relish exploring not the lands of earth, but the deep, deep love of God. He may take Isaias and me to places someday, for missions or for vacation, but our hearts have made our home in Him. I praise God for His incredible faithfulness, still learning day-by-day what it means to give Him and trust Him with everything.

Practical Points: 

God’s plan is unpredictable, but flawless. For me, it meant a relationship and marriage, for you He could have something else in store.

  • Ask yourself: Is Christ really at the center of your pursuits or desire for travel?
  • Are you willing to follow His plan for your life, whether it means marriage or singleness?
  • Does your career or dream have more worth to you than God’s calling? 

Reflect on these point through prayer and time in the Word. And remember, if you pass the test of faith, at the end there is an eternal prize, if only you run a good race.

We all need encouragement and sweet woman-to-woman fellowship. Can I occasionally toss some love in your inbox? I promise it will only enrich your walk with Christ. Sign up for The Free Indeed Newsletter.


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