Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Long Journey Home

Yesterday I returned to Dulce from a short trip to Minnesota.  I had gone to Minnesota on Sunday for the funeral of the friend I wrote about here.  I was anticipating a smooth trip home.  There had been a significant snowstorm Monday but yesterday the roads were cleaned up and everything was moving easily. 

I had stayed at a motel close to the Minneapolis airport.  I had a late AM flight to Denver, with a 90 wait for a connecting flight to Durango, Colorado.  My car was parked in Durango and it would take about 2 hours to drive to Dulce.  That drive would take place during daylight and I hoped to be home in time for dinner with my family. 

When I made the arrangements for the trip I thought that it was a pretty good plan.  As the day unfolded things went quite a bit differently. 

Getting to the airport went okay and I easily found the rental car return.  A brief conversation with the woman checking my car in and I was on my way to the terminal.

"Are these your keys?" she called out.  They were.  I had attached the rental keys to my key chain and in my desire to get moving I never thought to separate them before heading to the airport.  "That would have been a disaster in Durango" I thought as I put my car keys back in my pocket.

Went to the terminal. Found the United Airlines desk.  Got in a short line and was quickly at the counter.  Where the next bump unfolded.  About the time I was walking into the terminal United's computer system was crashing.  After about 30 minutes of waiting and numerous conversations among United's employees as they sorted out the procedures they were able to issue manual boarding passes.  I got one and  made my way through security and to the gate. 

First the departure time was delayed.  Then the gate changed.  Then it was back to the original gate.  United's computer system came back to life and I got a boarding pass for the Minneapolis flight and also the Denver flight.  We got on the plane and on our way about one hour late.  Denver is a big airport but I was hopeful I'd make the connection, especially because I had heard a United employee mention that the flight time was shorter than planned.

We landed in Denver with about 30 minutes to spare.  The pilot told us what gate we would dock at, Gate 50, and because I had the United app on my phone I knew that my next flight was at Gate 56.  I could see Gate 56 from where we were parked on the tarmac.

And we stayed parked.  It looked like they were closing the door on the plane at Gate 56.  Then they pushed the plane back.  And our plane pulled into that spot instead of Gate 50.  So much for making my connection. 

I got off the plane and got into a fairly long line for customer service.  A long, slow-moving line, with very competent employees helping some very frustrated customers. 

My wait in line was over an hour and I reached the desk resigned to the possibility that I may spend the night in Denver.  United put me on a 3:45 flight to Durango.  At 3:45 the incoming plane that we were supposed to take outbound still hadn't arrived but we did get in the air a bit before 5, landing in Durango just as the sun was setting.

I got in my car and made my way from Durango to Pagosa Springs.  It is a beautiful drive through the mountains, one that I had made two other times.  Driving that segment during the day on Sunday I had seen mule deer in four different places, so I stayed under the speed limit and was quite content to sit behind other cars rather than pass anyone.

A very brief stop for food in Pagosa Springs and then another hour to Dulce.  I have driven that road more often, in night and day.  Elk inhabit that landscape so while I was anxious to get home I took my time on the drive.  I had texted my wife when I got something to eat so she kept our daughter up a bit past her bed time.  We were all very glad when I got home.

It was a long journey home.

It was a longer journey than I expected but I never doubted that I would actually get there.  There were some things I could control and others that I could not.  I trusted that eventually I would get to my destination.

The book I took to read on the trip was about the doctrine of definite atonement.  In a nutshell definite atonement is the belief that Jesus is going to save eternally all of the people that he came to save.  It understands the Bible to teach that Jesus does not save everyone, but that of the ones he does save there is no doubt that he saves them.  From the perspective of salvation, Jesus definitely does what he sets out to do.

So during the day, as my trip had its ups and downs, I was also pondering definite atonement.  I'll admit that this isn't the best analogy but in a small way my trip home helped to illustrate definite atonement.

First, I had no doubts about my destination.  Similarly, for all who have faith in Jesus as their Savior and Lord, there can be no doubts about your destination.  Romans 10:9 says,

"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." 

Those words of Paul are not a comprehensive statement of all Christian belief but they do state unequivocally that people who confess faith in Jesus will know eternal life.  If you have faith in Jesus then there is no doubt about your eternal destiny.

Secondly, while I knew my destination and believed I would get there I still had to endure obstacles, some completely unexpected, before arriving there.

In a similar fashion, it is a fact of Christian life that just because a person has faith there are no guarantees that the remainder of one's earthly life will be smooth sailing.  Rather, we are warned of the opposite.  1 Peter 5:8-9 says,

"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world."

Bumps in the road of life as a Christian are to be expected, and some of them can be pretty big.  But God is faithful and the destination is sure.

And lastly, I eventually arrived home, to be warmly reunited with my family. 

We don't know the number of the days of our lives, nor the events that will fill them, but the Bible teaches that they are fully known to God.  And in that knowledge we can trust God to carry us through them, be they good or bad, easy or hard. 

One day we will be received into heaven, into the arms of our faithful Savior and Lord, Christ Jesus.  And in that there will be great rejoicing, of which my return home was just a small preview. 

My trip home was just a small image of the fulfillment of definite atonement. Promise, journey, and joyful arrival at a certain destination. 

As a Christian be encouraged.  The journey may at times seem long, but the destination is certain.  An eternal home with your faithful Savior and Lord.  To His eternal glory. Amen.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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