Why I Travel…

In a few hours I’ll depart for Orange County, CA and complete my last trip of the year there adding La Habra and Irvine to Toledo, Atlanta, Greenville, Orlando, Daytona Beach, Orange City, Sarasota, West Palm Beach, Denver, Loveland, Richmond, Riverside, South Lake Tahoe, Barcelona, Azille, Nimes, Fresno, Shaver Lake, Vancouver, Indianapolis, Walnut Creek, Prince Edward Island, Raymond, Millbury, Wichita, Chicago, Beloit, Jaynesville, Pittsburgh, and Millersburg, as some of the places I’ve visited this year.  In each of them I’ve been warmly received and generously cared for. Sara went on many of these trips with me, but many I went on alone because at times God has it for us to be in different parts of the world at the same time.

I’m often asked why I travel? If you know me well, you know I don’t enjoy most of what travel requires. I’ve never desired to see the world or enjoyed sitting on long airplaine flights. I don’t like being away from Sara and the family and friends we have in our lives. I wouldn’t do it to sell books, be a star at conferences, or to hold seminars. I do it simply because I sense that Jesus asks me to and the joy of that comes when I see lives touched and encouraged into more spacious places of God’s life. It’s part of seeing his kingdom grow in the world as I get to help people process their journey, learning to live in Father’s affection and connecting to others near them on similar journeys. In every one of those places above I have left good friends behind, even after knowing them for a few days. I love the people I get to spend time wtih and am honored by their stories and struggle to live deeply in the life of Jesus in a world that seeks to distract us from it.  

Sitting in a gathering in Trafford, PA on my last trip someone joked about me signing the plastic cloth on the table and the result is pictured above left. Yes, there were a lot of people around that table who had been deeply touched by some of my writings and podcasts and the conversation was robust, enlightening and heart-warming. Yes, I was there, but more importantly, when I leave I know that Jesus is still there. When I got back from this last trip, I found a note waiting for me that sums up why I travel better than anything I could say, and what I hope happens in people’s hearts when I do:

I am so thankful my friends invited me to come talk with you this week…I had no preconceived notions of who you were or what this event would be like, but considering the traumatic events I’ve gone through in the recent past, I still had some fears that you would treat me like the majority of other Christians in my life. I am so thankful you did the exact opposite – you showed me Jesus…but also you showed me a human who isn’t Jesus and you don’t pretend to be his twin or understudy.  Thank you for not being anything but who you are.  I am very quick to see the best in people when I have obviously been horrifically burned before in that department…but I have to learn how to trust in a SAFE, wise fashion eventually, so why not start with you?

If that’s what people get out of my visits, then I am deeply blessed. I don’t live this journey flawlessly but I hope to reflect enough of his light and life that others are encouraged in their own journey of learning to live in his reality. That fruit alone is enough reason to take this on the road when he asks.

Two others expressed similar gratefulness for our connection.  

“You reflect our Fathers love quite well, which might explain us acting like a bunch of fun-loving kids!”

“Thank you is too small a word to express how grateful we are to God for bringing you into our lives.  To have a brother to be able to visit with like we do with you is priceless…  We love how Father made your beautiful heart.”

I love what God does when he brings people together. I dont’ know where I’ll go next year. I’m still praying about what he might have in mind. In all honesty, however, I’ve had to declare bankruptcy on my travel invitations. I probably am not able to go to half the places I’m invited to and my list of invitations has gotten long and some on it are from a long time ago. So if you’ve invited me to come your way in the past, and we have not had any exchange about it in the last six months, please let me know again so I know there is still an interest and a purpose to my coming.

I’m amazed at how many people do this, especially when I don’t do many conferences or speaking events. I simply enjoy hanging out for a few days talking about this amazing journey and helping people process things they’ve heard or read from me. It also gives an opportunity for people in the same area who are hungry for similar things to connect. I’ve introduced a lot of people to others who became good friends.  I am often asked what it takes to get Wayne Jacobsen to visit somewhere. It simply takes an invitation and a wilingness to facilitate an opportunity for people to come together. There’s no manual for doing this. Mostly I meet with people in homes, garages, shops, or stores, wherever we can find a place for people to come and share part of a day together. If those people can help with my travel expenses and time away, that’s awesome. If they can’t, I know God will have other ways to take care of it.  

So the real heros are those that invite me to come, find a place for us to gather, communicate with those who want to come, and coordinate whatever refreshments and food we might share. Without them none of this would happen.  I am so grateful for all my hosts over the years. Their graciousness opens a wide door for others to be touched. Thank you so much for being part of his kingdom growing in the world…