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Unexpected Lessons on Grand Tour

April 25, 2024
By Jessica Wenger, Class of 2025

Grand Tour is a very unique experience that Rockbridge Academy students get to enjoy. On this academic trip, students spend two and a half weeks traveling to many parts of Greece and Italy such as Athens, Corinth, Rome, Sienna, and Florence. They get to actually see the places that they have learned about for so many years and understand the way the ancients thought through the physical things they left behind. True to the classical Christian method, though, the goal of Grand Tour is not merely to grow students intellectually, but to teach students to trust in God's redemptive work. God taught me many lessons through my experiences on Grand Tour. He did this through revealing my sin, showing me His abounding mercy, and exemplifying His greatness.

The first way that God worked in me on Grand Tour was through revealing my sin to me. Through this He gave me the opportunity to grow as one of His children. While on Grand Tour, we were in a new city almost every night, away from home, taking in large amounts of information, and constantly spending time with our classmates. While all these things were great blessings, they also opened the door for certain temptations. After conversations with some of my classmates, I found that many of us struggled with the sin of comparison. God made each of us uniquely and blessed each of us in different ways, but so often I found myself coveting the talents, relationships, and reputations of my peers. This is not the way that a child of God who has been blessed so much by Him should behave. 

God helped me to fight this temptation through journaling. Mr. Keehner required us to write one page of reflection on how we saw God at work each day. This process kept me from dwelling in my own thoughts and forced me to write them out and think about how I should respond in light of what Christ had done for me. I needed to rely on His sovereign will in order to learn contentment.

Another lesson that God taught me while I was on Grand Tour was how His mercy applies to my day-to-day life. While we were on the bus one morning, Mrs. Ball read to us Psalm 103:10, which says, “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.” Now as a Christian, I already knew this, but I had not been living as if I knew it. I knew that God would not condemn me because Christ had been condemned for me, but I lived holding my breath, waiting for God to send temporal consequences for my sin, which would, no doubt, ruin my trip. One evening I realized, as I was looking out at the sun falling beneath the Adriatic Sea, that God had blessed me with yet another amazing day, yet I had fallen short of what He called me to time and time again. The verse that Mrs. Ball had read came back to me, and I was brought to tears by the abounding mercy of God. Each day He continued to delight in blessing me when what I really deserved was punishment.

The last way that God grew me on Grand Tour was through exemplifying His greatness. When I sat at the top of the mountain at Delphi and looked out over the sprawling mountain ranges, the misty olive groves below, and the wildflowers which grew out of the face of the rock, I realized how small everything in my life was in comparison to the greatness of God. It brought back words to my mind of a song that I had not sung since I was in elementary Sunday school. While the words of this song are so simple, I continued to meditate on the mysteries behind them for the rest of the trip.

Lord, You are more precious than silver;
Lord, You are more costly than gold;
Lord, You are more beautiful than diamonds,
And nothing I desire compares to You.

Lord, Your love is higher than the mountains;
Lord Your love is deeper than the seas;
Lord, Your love encompasses the nations,
And YET, You live right here inside of me.

It truly is amazing that a God so vast and great dwells in the souls of sinful mortals like us. He continues to sanctify us through His holy word and the experiences we have in our lives. He graciously reveals to us our sins, but readily showers us with mercy. His greatness is revealed to us through all His works, and I was truly blessed to have seen him at work in such a unique way on Grand Tour. 
 Jessi Wenger is a senior at Rockbridge Academy who has been a part of the school since she was in kindergarten. Her favorite areas of study are theology, literature, and philosophy. In her free time, she enjoys participating in performing arts, such as the Rockbridge musical and variety show, along with taking and teaching dance classes. She also enjoys writing poetry, cooking, reading, gardening, and making homemade soaps and candles.