There mightn’t have been much travelling going on over the last months, but since the initial lock down in March I have been on my own life-changing journey.
I know that I have written previously about some aspects of what CFT has been going through as a business, but I thought I would share a personal perspective of what I went through in March and what I am still working through. When we are forced to physically distance ourselves it becomes more and more important to connect meaningfully and to be truly honest with ourselves and each other. Life is too short to not be our best selves.
With a horrific summer of bush fires and floods up here in the Blue Mountains, our local tourism businesses, the Blue Mountains Explorer Bus and Fantastic Aussie Tours, had been doing it pretty tough. Even so the lovely Autumn days of early March were starting to draw visitors back. We were also sure that the Easter holidays would be great for fire affected destinations as State tourism marketing was kicking into overdrive. Meanwhile the year ahead for CFT was looking bright …. then COVID-19 hit. Within a week our local tourism business went from very busy to almost zero and travelling to CFT tour destinations suddenly seemed uncertain.
Before the JobKeeper scheme was announced I honestly did not know what I was going to do. How would ANY of our businesses survive? What would become of our Work Family, our wonderful, hardworking team? I felt close to despair – I prayed, read the Bible more and asked God for wisdom to help me make the right decisions to keep us moving forward.
Yet when God spoke to me He wasn’t so much guiding my business but giving me personal direction. The advice wasn’t what to do but what NOT to do – I was to stop chasing status. You see professionally I had been riding pretty high, holding the important sounding roles and titles of Managing Director of our company and President of Blue Mountains Tourism. As such I was someone who was frequently in the media, both in print and on TV. I also travelled a lot for business and I loved it. I really enjoyed being the top tier Platinum Frequent Flyer with Virgin Australia and was chasing the top tier of IHG (hotel group), wanting to go the next level and get the extra perks. I would even create reasons for business trips just to try and maintain or increase these travel privileges. Looking back now I see so much of this was about status and ego and wasn’t really productive. Often these trips took me away from more important things – working directly on our business, being with my family or attending church. I was always chasing more – dreaming of running more tours, having more buses, opening more depots. Everything was about being bigger and better.
Now Jesus had always been part of these plans but to be honest He was part of them, sitting equally alongside all the other aspects of my life – family, the business, ideas for growth, money etc.
So in this crisis I called on God for direction and the path he set me on was to “give up” the self and seek humility. I could no longer just say “God is in control” but I had to truly embrace it – it is not always an easy journey.
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time” ( 1 Peter 5:6 )
Then last week I was unexpectedly asked by a friend to join a virtual event live-streamed in from KCC base camp. God sure was working through that person, He just knew He needed to reinforce the lesson!
The conference theme was “How Jesus changes men for the better” and the topic of one of the speakers, Dr Mark Stephens, was “Power Disrupted: How Christ upends strength and weakness”. His words really resonated with me and one line that struck home was “Our power is not from protecting our status”. Mark also referenced 2 Corinthians 4:7-18 (NIV), verses that speak to us in these difficult times –
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed…
Therefore we do not lose heart. … we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
By putting God front and center, rather than having Him as just part of the mix, it has become so much easier to move forward. I have now accepted that this “new normal” is our reality for the foreseeable time ahead. We will keep faith and our eyes on the future by continuing to offer tours and we are also considering other options to help us achieve our CFT vision – “To Connect people to God and Each Other through Experience”
After always believing in Jesus I can now rejoice in being able to say I am a true servant of the Lord – “Lord, I surrender!” I thank God for my peace and my confidence for the future, it has been His guidance during this crisis that has given me clearer sight of what is truly important.
CFT Managing Director