Business travel is not all it is made out to be. I drove down to London’s Heathrow Airport last Sunday evening and checked into the Sofitel, which is connected to Terminal Five (T5). The queue at the hotel check-in was ridiculously long. The receptionist who served me told me that they were busier than usual for a Sunday because the French air traffic controllers were on strike.
I knew all about the strike because earlier in the day British Airways (BA) emailed to tell me they had cancelled my early morning flight to Basel in Switzerland. Apparently the flight briefly enters French airspace. The earliest alternative according to the man in BA’s Indian call centre was the last flight on the Monday, which kind of messed up my work plans in Basel. Having dumped my bags in my hotel room I walked into the airport and went to the BA ticket desk. I explained that I had already spent thirty minutes on the phone/on hold to someone at the BA contact centre. The airport man had a look and magically got me a seat on the late morning flight, which it transpired was not full after all.
I duly arrived in Basel, where interestingly one has a choice of exiting the arrivals hall into France, Germany or Switzerland! My local contact was waiting for me and we headed out to the location to start the audit three hours later than planned. After finishing for the day I had to travel another hour to my hotel, which was in Lenzburg. Unfortunately, all the Basel hotels were fully booked because of the Basel World Jewellery Fair.
I ate in the hotel, caught up on my notes, and went to bed. It would have been nice to have had a walk around Lenzburg, but I had an early start the next day. The day arrived beautiful but cold. My contact collected me and we drove back to Basel. I love Switzerland but the scenery entering Basel from the east is more industrial than The Sound of Music.
During the morning we became aware of the terrible events unfolding in Belgium where a significant number of travellers at Brussels Airport and on the Metro either lost their lives or sustained life-changing injuries in yet another cowardly murderous attack by Islamic terrorists. That hit me hard as I wondered how my family would have felt if I had been one of the victims in Brussels. Life will never be the same for many families in Brussels and further afield.
Returning from Basel without mishap I stayed another night in the Sofitel where my room most definitely did not have a view (other than the rear of the car rental desk). On Wednesday I travelled into London by train and tube to attend a meeting. Despite the attacks in Brussels twenty-four hours earlier London seemed blissfully unaware. Commuters continued their lives as if nothing had happened in Brussels and nothing could happen to them.
The problem is that things do happen in an instant. One minute we could be stood in an airport check-in queue or travelling on the underground, the next minute it could be all over. Which means that the question we all need to ask is are we ready to stand before God? Not the god of the fanatics who murder innocents and subjugate women, nor any of the other gods that proliferate in our world. Are we ready to stand before the God of love who wants nothing more than for us to acknowledge Him and love Him back? What sets this God apart from all the other gods is that He loves with a love that no human could ever hope to describe or understand. This God loves us unconditionally despite the fact that we are unworthy to receive His love.
This Easter I am thinking about another traveller. He mostly travelled dusty roads by foot. Occasionally He rode on a donkey. Like the travellers at Brussels Airport his journey ended in a cruel death. But death was not the end of the journey for this traveller, who was restored to life three days later. Neither is death the end of the journey for human travellers. But there is another check-in after death. What happens at that check-in depends on whether we respond to the love of God and accept the gift offered up to all mankind that very first Easter. We all have to die, but not all of us will get a room with a view after we die.
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NLT)