meet natalie

About

read my words

Blog

say hello

Contact

Faith Just for Fun

Greece Roundup: Photos and Things I Learned

 

In May, David and I received a last minute invitation to sail the Aegean Sea for ten days to visit biblical landmarks like Philippi, Corinth, Patmos, and Ephesus. David’s business was in a holding period and I had no plans for June, so we found ourselves asking “Why wouldn’t we go?”

So we set out for Athens where we’d board the Sea Cloud. For two weeks, we lived in another universe: one where line caught fish appears on your plate at lunch and tiny squares of chocolate on your pillow at night, you can look up and see a creamy white sail pulsing against the backdrop of sun and cerulean water, you’re constantly within footsteps of godly men and women, and paperback books and board games are the entertainment of choice.

After coming home and shaking the jet lag, I thought about what I’d share with you from the trip. Surprisingly, the things that came to mind weren’t the biblical sights. While they were incredible – I’ll never forget standing where John received Revelation – they weren’t the highlight for me.

I once had a counselor who’d ask me what I could implement in my “real life” after any vacation, be it an activity, a habit, or a new perspective. It’s something I still do after every trip. I had many takeaways from Greece, but I picked three that I think anyone could benefit from thinking about.

P.S. – Don’t worry, I’ll be sharing all the prettiness from Greece at the bottom of this post. Scroll down to see more photos!

1.) There’s no single path we’re called to as Christians.

That sounds odd, and of course scripture gives us absolute truth and commands to obey, but what I mean is that there’s no single right way to live life with God. I was at coffee with a friend this morning who said that she lived her childhood under the impression that serving God meant you did ministry. A career was out of the question. Of course we know this isn’t true, but this mentality can permeate our thinking.

We look at well-known Christians or beloved mentors and mistake their path for ours: be it their marital status, their career, the number of children they have, where they live, how they give financially, or how they exercise their spiritual gifts.

David and I have been discussing where to live for what feels like 3 years. We brought this up with a woman on the ship who moved many times with her family, including 5 years overseas. When I asked what that was like, she gave an answer I didn’t expect.

She said, “When you come to the Lord with open hands, He’ll direct it all.” This approach seemed obvious, but David and I hadn’t applied it. It’s not about whether it’s right to stay in one place for 30 years or wrong to move, it’s about whether you’re seeking the Lord in where you spend your life, be it one city or ten.

This perspective applies to all decisions. Yes, we should seek the wisdom of that counselor or trusted friend. We should reflect on our lives and notice things that worked well and things that didn’t. But ultimately, if we’re coming to the Lord with open hands, He will lead us.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

– Proverbs 3:5-7 (ESV)

2.) God uses community to draw us back to Him.

An old pastor of mine said that life with God is not linear but rather a gradual line with many dips and highs. When we left for Greece, I’d been in low place for several weeks. I was looking at my circumstances and questioning God’s character: specifically, His love for me and His power within me to conquer sin.

On the ship, we were surrounded by couples who’d been walking with the Lord for years. God reminded me that my journey with Him is worked out in the family of God. He reminded me of His love by the way others expressed theirs and of His warmth through the conversations we had. He reminded me of the beauty of His word, His faithfulness, and His care through their testimonies and worship.

Much like nonbelievers become curious about God because of how Christians live, Christians who need refreshing may find it through the Holy Spirit working through other Christians. As one author said, “Only the water Jesus has quenches the thirst of the human soul (John 4:13–14), and we can only give it to others when we are drinking it ourselves.”

“I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.”

– Philemon 1:7

3.) Technology can choke us spiritually.

We had extremely limited Wi-Fi and no phone service at sea. Goodbye email, Facebook, Google, and Instagram (admittedly, I did post several times in cafes on land).

The absence of Internet meant an exponential increase in free time. I’d be embarrassed to know the number of times I reached for my phone out of habit in a quiet moment, before bed, after waking, or after a meal. I realized I have a unhealthy dependency on not just my iPhone but on the Internet and the world that it offers me.

At first, I found myself restless in these moments. I’d forgotten how to handle boredom. I’d forgotten how to make fun out of nothing. As the days passed, a skill that’d gone dormant in me started to sprout: the ability to be present. I picked up books to read before bed, I lingered on the deck to have conversations with those around me, I small talked with my husband in the morning over coffee, I watched the sunset and I stared at the sea, and I found myself filling the silence with prayer and thoughtfulness.

There’s growing distaste for 24/7 connection. People are realizing they’re controlled by their devices.  This is especially important for Christians. Continual connectedness inhibits our ability to listen to the Lord, focus on His Word, and give our attention to the people around us.

One way I’m bringing this home is making it a habit to reach for my phone only after I’ve had a cup of coffee and gotten in the Word. We’ve also decided to not allow phones in the bedroom, and we’re making an effort to turn off all technology after 8:00pm. I can’t even begin to tell you how life-giving this is. There’s a calm in those quiet moments that can only be experienced when we resist the urge to scroll Instagram, check Apple News, or peruse our emails.

If you’re interested in learning more about creating boundaries with the Internet and social media, there are a few great articles here and here. I also strongly encourage you to bookmark and make time to watch this video discussing the social and cultural effects of the Internet on community, identity and the public sphere is also pretty incredible.

“With our digital devices, social life today can be characterized to an on-demand social connectedness and simultaneously gives us the ability to manage other people’s access to us. What this control gives us is a form of dialed down human contact, so we can avoid inconvenient interruptions to our mood and guard ourselves from too much commitment. One of the most apparent costs…is a growing insensitivity to ones immediate surroundings and an inability to be present where one is.

– Felicia Wu Song

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”

– Colossians 3:1

What are you learning this summer? Are there takeaways from your vacations that you’re bringing home to real life? Let me know in the comments.


As promised, more shots from the lovely Greece:

 

 

 

Previous Post Next Post

You may also like

2 Comments

  • Reply Liz tuttle

    Natalie – I loved this article and was very convicted by point 3. I look forward to reading the 2 articles and the video…… and making some changes. Thanks for taking the time to write it and being vulnerable.
    Blessings and hi to david.

    July 10, 2017 at 4:02 PM
    • Reply Natalie Yerger

      Liz, I’m so glad you visited my blog! That made my day. Thankful that the words encouraged you in some way. Hope you’ll come back for another read! We miss y’all and hope you’re doing well!

      July 14, 2017 at 2:19 PM

    Leave a Reply

    © Natalie Yerger | Site by Micah J. Murray