Friday, August 12, 2016

Stranded - 8/10/2016

An Arkie's Faith column from the August 10, 2016, issue of The Mena Star

My wife recently spent a week in Chicago. She traveled to Chicago by train, and while she was there, she relied on public transportation. Being without a car was a new experience for her. There were significant delays on her train trip to Chicago, and she arrived several hours late.

As she waited for her train back home in the downtown Chicago train station, my wife began to worry about getting on the correct train in the crowded and extremely busy terminal. Over the public address system, a service was advertised that gave you access to a lounge with drinks and snacks and a personal escort to your train. Wanting to make sure she got on the correct train, my wife used the service. The train trip back was on time and uneventful.

While my wife had a great trip, not every traveler has that experience. A while ago, I received a phone call shortly after I arrived at work. A caller from Minnesota was asking if I could help a young woman who was stranded in Mena. She had traveled from Lafayette, Louisiana to Minnesota by bus to attend a wedding. On her return trip the bus she was riding on stopped in Mena in the early morning hours. The young woman along with several other women got off the bus to use the restroom. She was last in line, and as soon as she finished and walked outside she saw that the bus was pulling away. She chased the bus waving her arms frantically but the bus drove off.

The young woman didn't know what to do. She was stranded at a gas station in a strange town. Her first call was to Greyhound Bus customer service. They were not helpful at all. It was no concern of theirs that the bus had left her. Since she was not on the bus that her ticket was written for, the ticket was no longer valid. If she wanted to continue her journey by bus she would have to go to a Greyhound terminal and purchase a new ticket. The nearest terminal was nearly 100 miles away, and there was not another bus until the next day. The customer service rep suggested that she take a taxi. There is not a taxi available in Mena.

When I arrived at the gas station, I found the young woman very upset. We talked about her options in between phone calls from friends and family trying to find a solution. After some time we finally worked out a plan to get her home. Her family started driving north from Lafayette and my parents drove her to Texarkana where her family met up with her. She was no longer stranded.

I could empathize with the stranded young woman. On a trip that we took back in 2008, we ended up stranded three times. We were on our way to Belize. We had boarded our plane at DFW when the announcement was made that we had to wait in line for our plane to be de-iced. After three hours on the plane, it was announced that due to snow all flights were grounded. We were stranded in the airport along with thousands of other passengers.

We spent a very uncomfortable night in the airport, and it was the next afternoon before we were able to fly to Belize. When we got to the airport in Belize, our small plane wasn't able to fly to San Pedro because of a thunderstorm. We were once again stranded. On our way home we were once again stranded. Because of bad weather in Dallas the airline flew us to Miami instead. When we arrived in Miami, we found that flights there were canceled due to the weather. We had to wait until the next day to get a flight out of Miami.

As nice as the DFW or the Miami airports are, I don’t want to live there. I don’t mind passing through the airport on my way to my destination, but I don’t want to be there full time.
Jesus told us in John 15:19 (GNT), “If you belonged to the world, then the world would love you as its own. But I chose you from this world, and you do not belong to it; that is why the world hates you.”

Gentle Reader, we as Christians are stranded here on this earth, but we don't belong to it. It is not our home. Jesus tells us about the home He has for us in John 14:2,3 (NKJV), "In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” We are stranded. This world is not our home, but Jesus has prepared a home for us and wants us to be there with Him.

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