Ever since I left school and joined my first ship in October 1973 I have been travelling, but what was once exciting has become distinctly tedious. Today I am seated on an aircraft that left the stand at London’s Heathrow Airport, and is now back on the stand while an engineer fixes a problem with a warning light in the cockpit.
Let’s face it – travel isn’t fun. I left my family last night to drive to the airport, but still had to get up earlier than usual to catch my flight. Then there is the challenge of airport security, which seems to get worse every year. There are many other delights faced by the modern traveller. Right at the moment two small children are chasing each other up and down the aisle and screaming. Here they come again. Mother is starting to get annoyed, while several passengers are looking as if they are tempted to stick a foot out into the aisle as the little darlings approach.
A man with a red cap and the words ‘British Airways Turnaround Manager’ emblazoned on his jacket is now standing talking to the crew. Apparently the problem has been resolved, meaning that I will have to return my laptop to its bag, and finish this blog later in the flight. After they finally get round to serving breakfast!
Breakfast always makes things better, even when consisting of something an airline has reheated. I wonder what the likes of Paul and the other apostles thought about travel in their day. The hassles were different but the fact remains that it wasn’t easy getting from A to B, and those early followers of Jesus faced many challenges. So why did they do it? In 2 Corinthians 11 Paul tells how he has been beaten, exposed to death, pelted with stones, shipwrecked three times, and faced many other dangers. I can relate to some of those dangers, but why did Paul keep putting himself in harm’s way?
The answer is that after experiencing Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul was never ever the same again. His meeting with Jesus was a life changing experience that led Paul to hunger and thirst to know more of God, and to share his experience of God with other people. On the front bulkhead of the BA aircraft I am travelling on today there are three photographs of beach huts, which is strange as I have blogged twice about beach huts in the last fortnight. Paul could never have owned or rented a beach hut because it would have tied him down to one beach, and the confines of a tiny building. I guess God never meant our churches to be like beach huts. Pretty, pretty small, and pretty useless for anything but our own pleasure. Paul and those early apostles sacrificed much to build a church that was dynamic and inviting, albeit challenging and dangerous. Isn’t that what being a follower of Jesus should be like?