The Long Road Home
It’s Thursday evening, and we have now been home two days. I think it has taken until now for me to be able to write about the end of our trip. But so many of you have been following my posts about our cruise in the British Isles, that you must hear the rest of the story.
Our last cruise stop was in Guernsey, an island off the southwest shore of England. In fact, the island was taken by William the Conquerer a thousand years ago, before he continued on to England and seized it as well. Therefore, according to what we are told, technically, the island belongs to the Queen, and is part of the wealth of the royal family. Since we had experienced the wind, waves and fog the previous evening, we were late arriving in Guernsey and our shore excursion was cancelled. We still went in to shore and walked around, but we were getting tired and it was our last night on the ship.
The next morning, we had to get up at 5:00 am (that’s midnight Indy time) and head down to disembark. We were off the ship around 6:15 am and then had a 2.5 hour ride to Heathrow Airport where we gathered our luggage, went past customs, checked our baggage and finally entered the gate area. We waited several hours for the flight, leaving London at 2:00 pm for JFK in New York.
We had upgraded our seats to bulkhead, so we would have a little more room; and hoped that we would be on time to JFK. We were fortunate and arrived as scheduled in NY. By this time, we were past tired, as neither of us had slept on the trans-Atlantic crossing, but we had one more flight left – back home to Indiana. We re-checked our baggage, went through the security areas again, and grabbed a bite to eat before we headed to the domestic gates. Well, Monday evening, it was not to be. Arriving at the gate right before boarding time, we were stunned to hear that the flight was cancelled. Everyone made a dash to the ticket counters, and I called American on my cell phone. No more flights out of NY on Monday. We were stranded. After a rather heated disagreement on the phones with the airline, I was finally told that I would receive a voucher for a night’s stay, and also that American could not get us home until late Tuesday.
Delta came to the rescue and got us on an early flight scheduled for Tuesday morning. But the evening didn’t end here – we had to get our baggage – AGAIN – and then head to the “air train” to get to the shuttles to get to the hotel; and it was 11:00 pm when all this happened. In other words, we were up 23 hours straight – without sleeping or rest.
When we finally arrived at the hotel, and I won’t bore you with the details of how we got there, Janet and I were almost literally sick from lack of sleep. We were bone tired. The place was a little more of a “joint” than I would have liked, but we were there, and just wanted a bed to crash on. I can’t even re-live all the issues here tonight – its just too fresh in my brain.
It was tough getting to sleep – wishing we were home, and then getting upset that American had not picked up our baggage charges for the flight home through Delta. So I sat up most of the night, complaining about the additional expense – and wondering if Delta would let us have access to their premier quality club lounge. To my surprise, there were no baggage charges and the club welcomed us with open arms. But all these hours without sleep, and then another short night as we had to get back to the airport, were more than we could handle. We were exhausted, and I can see how sleep deprivation is a good torture technique. I think Janet would have done just about anything for a comfortable bed to close her eyes on – and I felt the same way.
Finally, home by lunch the next day. Of course, this involved another trip to JFK, checking the baggage again, then the security lines, and the wait for the plane. I don’t remember when we have ever had such a tough time getting to a destination. So what kind of a verse applies to all this?
After all, we were tired, discouraged, hot, physically worn out and just wanted to be home. And our tolerance and patience were long gone. Then it hit me, Jer. 45:3, “You said, ‘Woe to me! The LORD has added sorrow to my pain; I am worn out with groaning and find no rest.’” Indeed – no rest!
So here we are on Thursday; still recovering from the trip home. Good thing we loved the trip – otherwise I would have asked if it was worth it! And I learned something about myself. I was so tired that I was no longer thinking about living my life in a God centered manner. I was upset that the airlines were taking advantage of us; that I would have double baggage charges, that we would not be able to wait in the club areas, that we would not get good seats on the way home – and a host of other minor issues that I am too embarrassed to reveal. It was really childish – but oh, so real, at the time…
So my encouragement tonight is to remind you to concentrate on the things that are important. Because, speaking for myself, I always worry about the small stuff and tend to lose sight of the big picture. And my prayer is that when you least expect it, God will send you a little surprise to confirm that He is still there, protecting you and guiding your steps – if you will let Him. You would think that I could learn this lesson once – but no, I have to experience the problems time after time after time. It gets old – and I hope that someday I can just chill out and turn this stuff over to God. He’s the one in control – and in my mind I know that – it’s the heart that has a hard time letting go….. Have a great day!