A holy God has a right to determine the basis of His [plan of] salvation.
~Pastor Tim Armstrong
I am not a good traveler. Exploring beautiful locations, eating regional foods, and hunting for unique gifts is wonderful, but getting to my destination feels distressing! Car, bus, plane—it does not make any difference. It all feels like a mild form of torture! Sitting strapped in a seat for long periods of time or standing in long lines with other tired, bored, and cranky travelers makes me feel like a steer in a slaughterhouse. Each time I choose to travel, I have to deliberately work through the voyage with peace and patience. If I am not careful, the challenge of it could spoil memorable experiences and hurt my relationships with my traveling companions.
My husband, Gary, and I had an opportunity to work through just such an issue as we prepared to fly home from our long-awaited vacation. We arrived at the Orlando International Airport refreshed from our trip to Florida, where we had enjoyed sun-drenched skies and sandy shores. We contentedly entered the airport with plenty of time to peruse the arrival and departure screens, find our flight, and get to our gate. Or so we thought. As soon we entered the TSA screening area, we were stunned by the crowds. Hundreds of people formed tangled, snake-like lines that seemed to have no beginning or end. While we were prepared to have some delays due to basic security, we had not anticipated this. We pulled our carry-ons close and stepped into the sea of people.
My nerves began to tingle when I noticed that the concourse signage was confusing. I could see Gary’s face was heavy with concentration. We stared at the placards for quite some time, and trouble began when neither of us realized that we had chosen different paths. Gary soon walked away from me, not aware that I had seen something he had not. He was going the wrong direction. I scurried after him telling him what I thought, but he believed he was going the correct way and began to get irritated with me. Because there were so many people, he felt we needed to get in line right away and didn’t want to have a discussion.
My heartbeat increased. I felt like I was wearing an electric blanket. How was I going to get him to trust my instincts? I tried again (probably not using the most tact), and a heated exchange took place. Our frustration levels rose, as neither of us wanted our beautiful trip to end with a feud. Even so, one wrong line choice could very well mean that we would miss our flight.
I took a deep breath and explained why I thought we should go the other way, and then tried really hard to keep my mouth shut and pray that Gary would believe me. He had an important decision to make, and time was urgent. I stepped toward the line entrance and breathed. Just as I was beginning to feel even more anxious and claustrophobic, Gary stepped toward me—and the way home.
As our reptilian line crept slowly back and forth through the roped paths, I couldn’t even guess how long it would take to make it through the security checkpoint. After ten minutes or so, a new security agent came on duty. He looked around, spoke a few words to the other agents… and did something amazing. He reached down, unhooked one of the many ropes keeping the throngs of people in order, and began to wave our line ahead. Relief filled my mind and body. In a single move, this agent ushered us out of hours of waiting and directly into the security checkpoint. Five minutes later we sat at our assigned gate, relieved and happy to be headed back to Ohio.
That day my husband and I were directed into the only line that could lead us home. If we had gone the other direction, we would have been on the wrong side of the airport, stuck in a line going to the wrong destination.
In the same way, those seeking to be with God in Heaven must follow the prescribed way of getting there. All paths do not lead to the One True God, the Father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In Proverbs 14:12 God teaches, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” In the New Testament Jesus continues this theme: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, emphasis added). That day at the Orlando airport, my husband did a noble thing. He chose to humble himself and go a different way than he had planned. Humility is a must for someone to find the kingdom of God (1 Peter 5:6). At first, my suggestion aggravated him because it was not what he thought was right; but after consideration, he trusted me and humbly changed his mind.
In theological terms, changing direction is called repenting. And this is what Jesus commands us to do when he says, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Gary’s choice got us to our desired destination: our home. Your choice to repent and receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, will get you to an eternal, blissful home with God.