When you’re a native Michigander like myself, everyone travels “up north” for summer vacation or a weekend getaway. “Up north” ranges anywhere from a one-hour drive to an all-day trek in a hot car.
You pack a picnic lunch.
You endure the parking lot that is northbound I-75.
You ask, “Are we there yet?” at least two dozen times.
But once you arrive at your destination, it’s heaven.
For my family, heaven was my grandparents’ two-story cabin. Their home became the family vacation hub for forty years. It housed anywhere from four to 15 family members at any given time. We frittered away decades of summer days by fishing, swimming, biking, roasting marshmallows, and laughing.
That home saw my cousins and I grow up.
It witnessed new family members be born.
Its walls stretched with each new union in marriage.
The cabin endured growing pains and loneliness when life got too busy and coordinating schedules prevented us from spending time together.
Decades of summers came and went and those lazy, loving days at the family cabin became memories. Last summer, life at the lake took a different turn as failing health and cancer threatened to take both my grandparents.
It eventually did, but not before we all gathered together, one last time before life’s warm summer ushered in a cold snap and harsh winter, and said goodbye to Grandma and Grandpa within four months of each other.
When life as you know it abruptly stops, it can be tempting to look to the past and then put down stakes there.
However, as I’ve been drawing close to God during this tough season, He’s been gently teaching me that the summer memories created in those cabin rooms are not simply gifts to warm me up when life gets chilly. They’re intended to shine light on the life that’s coming for you and me.
Jesus spoke of an eternal life that makes any summer family vacation pale in comparison.
My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:2-3)
Praise God that’s the destination available for all of us. Although fond memories give us comfort knowing where we’ve been, I’m learning the focus should be on where we’re going.
The home that was full of smiling and reminiscent family members last summer is now nearly empty after we sifted through eight decades of memories. It will soon be ready for another family to move in and create memories of their own.
It’s difficult to face the reality that those cabin rooms that housed me as a child will never hold me that way again. Yet, God reminds me that any room in our family’s summer home can never compare to the one my grandparents currently own. And it will never hold a candle to the home He’s prepared for me.
That’s one trip “up north” I don’t intend to miss.