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Can Travel be Worshipful?

Sometimes a landscape is more than just a landscape. Sometimes you can almost hear it sing.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the natural universe we inhabit. It can be overwhelming, wild and savage. But it can also be positively majestic. It can fill each of us with both dread and wonder. It can sustain life — or extinguish it. Creation is so much bigger than us, and yet we stand at the center of it.

I don’t think any of us will ever be able to fully grasp the mysteries of the world we live in, but we can gain insights into it. Some of the most intriguing come from the Bible. In addition to giving an account of how it was made, scripture paints a picture of a living, breathing universe that reflects the goodness and power of its maker. The heavens, it says, declare the glory of God, and the skies proclaim the work of his hands. All around us, the visible world reflects God’s invisible qualities. And rocks and trees cry out in worship, even when we don’t.

This concept is fascinating to me. If the beauty of creation reveals something about who God is, then the diversity of environments on earth must have many different things to say about him. The landscapes around the place you live might reveal something different than my hometown. Everywhere we go, the things we see can draw us closer to God, each in their own unique way.

I can’t think of a better reason to travel. Exploring the world has always been fun. But I think the Bible tells us that travel can be more than enjoyable. Travel can be spiritual. Even worshipful.

In the travel industry, we have specific ideas about what a “faith-based trip” looks like. It could be a tour of the Holy Land or another destination where events of the Bible took place. In the United States, faith travel often entails visiting one of a handful of destinations where Christian organizations have built impressive museums, theaters or theme parks. But I think almost any trip can be a spiritual experience.

If seeing the beauty of creation helps you know God more, then any place on earth can be a faith travel destination. You don’t have to visit a church or hold a worship service. Sometimes standing silent, captivated by a beautiful landscape, is more powerful than any song you could sing.

From the mountains of Alaska to painted canyons of Arizona and the marshes of Louisiana, America has been blessed with beauty that can speak to the heart of any traveler — and any believer. Emerald seashores, thick forests, arid deserts and expansive grasslands have tales to tell. And for those of us fortunate enough to travel abroad, each country we visit opens its own window into glory.

Many experienced travelers will tell you that no matter how many places they go, their destination wish list keeps getting longer. The more we travel, the more we want to travel. Maybe that’s because travel helps us connect with the divine in ways that few other things can.

All around the world, creation is singing about the glory of God. I don’t know about you, but I want to hear as many of those songs as possible.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.