It’s my favorite time of year. The time when everything starts to slow down, when days are filled with sunshine, and when everyone in the family is eagerly anticipating the highlight of the year . . . vacation!
Over the years we have traveled to many different destinations for our annual family vacation, but Florida, by far, has always been the fav! Gorgeous white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, and Disney World are enough reason to want to put this vacation place on repeat.
But, besides all the alluring attributes of this vacation destination, there is still one more reason I love to visit Florida, and that is because Florida is my Holy Land.
Fifteen years ago, a much younger, more broken version of me, went on vacation to Disney World, clueless to the fact that my life was about to change forever! I had no idea that when my plane landed, and I went to the resort, I would encounter a divine, God designed and timed appointment. One that would alter the course of my life, and its ripple effects know no end.
While on a tour of the luxurious vacation accommodations, I couldn’t help but notice that something was very different about the man that was guiding me. There was just something about him that puzzled me, something I had never seen before. He was so full of joy and love and peace that it struck me as odd. “No one is that happy,” I thought to myself, and after pondering on this anomaly for over half the tour, I finally asked him.
“What is your deal?” I said. “What is it that makes you so happy?”
His answer was one I would never of anticipated.
He very calmly and plainly replied, “I gave my life to Christ two years ago, and He completely transformed me. That’s why I’m so happy.”
I have to be honest. At first I thought he was crazy. I thought, “Oh great, a Jesus freak.” But as I listened to him share his story, his personal testimony of what God did for him, it left me wondering… “If God did that for him, what would He do for me?”
And that is where it started, the turn – the shift in my heart, in my mind, and eventually, in my life. It all leads back to that one moment on vacation when a random tour guide answered a question with the most honest answer I have ever heard.
All these years later it still amazes me that God would come into my heart while on vacation at Disney World of all places! He didn’t choose to come to me in a church (probably because I wouldn’t go to one), nor did He come to me during a special service or event. Matter a fact, at the time, discovering God was the farthest thing from my mind. And yet He still pursued me, and used the words of one total stranger to start me on a course that would lead me to the joy, love and peace I so longed for all my life.
This, right there, is the real reason why I love Florida so much. It’s my Holy Land. It’s where I found Jesus. It’s where this locked up broken girl got set free, and every time I get to visit this sweet state, I get to remember that truly sweet, first surprise encounter with the lover of my soul. I now like to refer to this life changing trip as my salvation vacation.
So why am I sharing this story with you other than the fact that thoughts of vacation are occupying my mind? The answer is this:
Sometimes all it takes to turn someone’s life towards Jesus is one honest answer.
One moment of bravery to share your story with a stranger. One opportunity to let your light and love shine before whoever is in front of you. And the beauty is it can happen even in the most unsuspecting places, during the most unsuspecting times.
Maybe you and your family are too getting ready to go on vacation. Maybe, you are also full of excitement to get the eagerly anticipated times of vaca underway. Then, please remember this story, because you never know when and where God will chose to use you to change someone’s life forever!
“And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” Mark 16:15