I never imagined that three inches of snow would create havoc with the transport network in Switzerland. In the UK yes, but surely the Swiss authorities are experienced in getting the roads, railways and airports working as if there is no snow at all. Apparently not, and the three inches of snow that fell in Lausanne overnight last Thursday presented me with some significant challenges in returning to the UK after a four-day business trip. A fifteen-minute road journey took one hour twenty minutes, while one train ride turned into three as two trains were terminated at stations other than Genève Airport. The airport was closed all morning, and although the delays on the railway meant that I arrived at the airport after my flight should have left, the inbound flight had not arrived. For once I was pleased to be on a flight with a significant delay.
The weather in Switzerland proved to be positively tropical compared with what greeted me when we touched down in the UK three hours later than scheduled. Faced with a choice of trying to stay at the airport (and after being quoted £404 for a room) or driving home through the snow I decided to try to get as close to home as possible. The motorways weren’t too bad, but the last few miles of the M5 before I turned off were challenging.
The motorway journey proved to be a walk in the park compared with the A44 west from Worcester. I successfully drove thirteen of my final twenty-six miles before a hill in the small town of Bromyard defeated my two-wheel drive Ford. I was able to turn the car and roll back down the hill and into a side road that just happened to lead to the only hotel in town. I even managed (with a bit of digging) to get the car off the road and into the hotel car park where it stayed for the next two days before I dug the car out of the car park and was finally able to make it home. The welcome at the Falcon Hotel was wonderful as was the food (especially the full English breakfast) and I enjoyed the company of the owners as well as that of my fellow stranded travellers.
There was a time when a journey like this would have caused me significant stress. Surprisingly I experienced no stress, only calm. At every point on my journey and during my time stranded so close to home I felt God’s presence with me. He guided me during my travels and in my decision making. He gave me peace throughout the journey, and when it was no longer possible to continue He guided me to an inn where there was most definitely room to stay.
Then as God allowed me to observe Bromyard through the windows of the Falcon Hotel I was blessed even more to see how the humans of this town helped their fellow humans. When the time came to attempt to drive home I left Bromyard with absolute confidence that God would take me safely there. That’s what God does when we place our trust in Him. He takes us safely home. If there was ever a time that I had to trust and listen to God, it was during my journeying last week. The challenge as ever is to trust and listen to God daily and in the smallest of things, not just in the storm.
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. (Psalm 9: 9-10 NIV)