Well, it’s Sunday night – Father’s Day, 2011. And we are heading up the east coast of Scotland to the Orkney Islands for a day ashore tomorrow. This trip has been full of all kinds of memories and reminders of the constant bombardment of “stuff” into our lives. We have had many encounters with other passengers; and yet, in the middle of it all, this is the first year that I can remember that our kids have not been around for Father’s Day. I heard from all three of them by e-mail, but it is not quite the same. And on top of that, Janet wrote her Dad today, but it was the first time that she can remember that she has not spoken to her father by phone on his special day. Of course, my Dad has been gone more than 33 years, but I always think of him on Father’s Day as well.
The big idea today is that Janet and I decided to go ashore at our stop in Invergordon, Scotland. We had chances to go to Loch Ness; or take a number of other shore excursions that headed to cities or other famous sites. Frankly, we chose something completely different. We went to see the salmon run at Shin Falls, and then stopped in a small little town named Dornoch, Scotland. We spent the afternoon traveling the moors and highlands of northern Scotland. And it was great! Barely another car on the road, and the heather is just starting to bloom. The views are great – just as I imagined them to be in my dreams. I have always wanted to visit Scotland, and today, I was not disappointed.
What made the day even more special was the noticeable difference from the first several days. Our first day, we were in London and tried to catch up on our sleep while seeing the major sites. I was in awe of Westminster Abbey and even wrote about it as a post. Then, a trip to Paris the next day. We witnessed unions on strike, street riots, FIRECRACKERS (not firecrackers); huge loud booms that sounded like bombs going off, huge traffic jams, crowds too large to number and a host of other things that reminded me of my trip to Paris when I was 17, when I was tear-gassed during a similar street riot I wandered in to. On the side of a miniature Statue of Liberty in a roundabout, vandals were painting the words, “Libertie….c’est ici….?” (Liberty, it’s here?) Don’t get me wrong – Paris is okay; but the older we get, the more Janet and I realize that we just don’t care for the large cities as much as we used to.
I know that many of you must be thinking we’re nuts, but remember; I am the guy who dropped out of the hustle and bustle of the corporate world to attend seminary; and I can see how those preferences have permeated the other areas of my life as well. And then yesterday, Edinburgh, Scotland. A really old city that is fascinating for its age and castles; but quite honestly, another rather large city with the same shopping malls, people in a hurry, and the pushing and shoving you find on almost any major street in any major city in the US; and throughout the world. We did tour the Queen’s yacht, Britannia, which was very enjoyable before we went to see Edinburgh Castle, where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to her son, James, who eventually became King of both Scotland and England hundreds of years ago.
Life must have been pretty tough in those times. but who knows; hundreds of years from now, people may be saying that about the 2000’s. But you get the idea – people in a rush – trying to get their way, intolerant of others; thinking the world revolves around them. Today, I thought Janet and I had finally successfully removed ourselves from the rat-race; as we traversed the Scottish moors and highlands. What a great afternoon. And then it happened….
We boarded the coach for a leg of our tour, and a woman several rows behind us started complaining about the lack of room in her seat. The older man in the row ahead of her apparently had a broken seat; one which would not stay straight up, so his seat back was slightly inclined. The tour guide and bus driver both came back and tried to adjust it, to no avail. There were no other open seats, so apologies were offered to the woman; and we all buckled our seat belts; a law in Scotland. That’s when the woman just couldn’t take it any more. She leaned forward toward the kindly gentleman, and in her own inimitable way, she said, “I hope I don’t get sick on this tour….because if I do, I’m going to throw up in your ear…..” I couldn’t help it – I broke out laughing……
Here we are, in the middle of nowhere – miles from another car – no cities – just countryside as far as you can see; with a periodic castle thrown in for effect. And I still can’t get away from the grind of people out to get their own way – often times at the expense of others. I felt sorry for the gentleman – a kindly man doing everything he could to help her out – but it fell on deaf ears.
All I could think of is Psalms 37:7, “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” And I know that this sounds a little dramatic, but I just want a little peace and quiet. And I just have to wait on the Lord. Patiently…not exactly one of my best attributes.
So my encouragement tonight is to try to be still before the Lord; and wait for Him to direct your steps. It’s not easy – believe me; I have tried. And just when I think I am getting it down pat, something happens to get me stirred up. I sense that I am not alone – many of you have probably been in the same place. My prayer is that you will continue to try and honor God with your patience. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are to set the example. Perhaps the woman on the coach today was just having a bad day; or the unions in Paris were struggling to feed their families; or…..or…..or…..