Like you’ve never been late!
My wife and I were sipping coffee on a sleepy Friday morning. Our plan for the day was to pack for our three-week mission trip. The next day we were headed to several African nations to visit various missionaries that had been sent out from our church.
At 8 a.m. I happened to glance at our itinerary. I was stunned when I realized that we were scheduled to depart at noon on that same day, TODAY! My blood pressure could have inflated a tire.
Planes within Africa fly their routes once or twice a week. If we missed the first leg of the journey, the whole trip would be lost along with a fortune in airfare.
I said to my wife, “Uh Sharie, um I just found out we are leaving today.” She ignored me, “just another dumb Jim joke.” With more assertiveness I said, “Honey we are leaving today.” She said, “no.” I said, “yes.” She said, “no.” I said, “yes.” “Let me see that,” she said. She looked at it and then lost it.
We had 4 hours to shower, pack, make the 2-hour drive to Dallas, park the car, check in, wade through security and board the plane. No way!
But we tried! We showered faster than a couple of preteens. She had postponed doing the laundry, which meant most of our clothes were dirty. But she wadded them up and jammed them in the suitcase anyway. What would the TSA think?
Toothbrushes, deodorant, hair gel were flying into the luggage.
We made it to the airport, but the south parking lot was full. We drove the full length of DFW to find that the north lot was also full, so we parked the car in short term parking. It might be cheaper just to leave it there when we got back.
We slipped into the plane just before they closed the door. Our collective adrenaline was pumping for the first 3 hours of our transatlantic flight.
And then there were the typical airliner annoyances: cramped seating; crying babies; inconsiderate fellow passengers (my wife being the exception) and a bathroom that always seemed to say, “in use.”
The journey was brutal – but arriving was breathtaking.
We were greeted and treated like royalty by our missionaries. There were tears and hugs and joy abounding. We ate what they ate, saw what they saw, and joined them in their service to the Lord. We had a superb time.
As a bonus – we met exotic animals, saw dazzling displays, encountered curious cultures and experienced the wonder of God like never before.
If we had to do over again, including the plane pain, we would do it.
Now, as a hospice chaplain, I counsel people who are on a difficult journey. Some battle cancer, others COPD. Some are disabled by stroke while others lose their memories to dementia. Some are whittled away by diabetes and others tremble with Parkinsons.
They look to me to help them make sense of it all. So, I tell them about my traumatic and troublesome trip to Africa.
But then I tell them about heaven, and I say, “The journey is sometimes brutal – but arriving is breathtaking.”
Death is the portal to the glories that lie beyond. But what lies beyond makes the journey worth it all. The Psalmist put it this way, “In thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Psalm 16:11 KJV
How does the old song go? “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus. Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ; One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase; So bravely run the race till we see Christ.”
The journey is sometimes brutal – but arriving is breathtaking.
A PRAYER: Lord please help us be brave until then.
This has been Jim Johnson and pickleheavenpress.com
May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.