The journey to Cyprus was…emotional!
The madness began right away. My good friend, Neil, picked me up from my house at 7:15am thinking that we had plenty of time to get back to his house in Cwmbran to pick up his luggage and travel documents before catching the coach from Newport at 8:15am. And we would have had plenty of time…if indeed the coach was leaving at 8:15am. However, a quick check of the confirmation email told us that the coach was actually set to leave at 7:45!!
We were stuffed!
Neil phoned his wife, Cayte, and asked her to wake up their sleepy 3 year old and bomb down to the coach station with all his stuff in the vain hope that we’d somehow make it in time.
We missed it by a minute and had to suffer the agony of seeing it drive past us just as we were pulling up to the coach station. Cayte, however, had (miraculously) managed to get there in time and had been informed by the driver that our only hope of catching the coach was to get to Chepstow before the coach did, as that was the last stop before Gatwick.
We ‘dumped’ Neil’s car at the nearest McDonalds and literally chased the coach all way down the M4 in dense fog. By the time we finally made it to Chepstow we still hand’t seen the coach and feared the worst. However, a few moments later the coach pulled up and we gratefully climbed aboard.
But the drama was far from over!
The check-in at Gatwick went smoothly enough, but it was while sat in the departure lounge that we were informed that the plane was delayed by 2 hours.
Nevermind, the delay gave us a bit of time to do some research into the hotel we were booked in to.
Here’s about 1% of the terrifying things we read on Trip Adviser:
We paid monkeys and got peanuts…The apartments were dirty we cleaned the floor as we were sick of getting black feet.
the shower curtain was two foot too short it looked like something from the flint stones it was all jagged at the end.
Worst hotel I have ever stayed in
Its a shame that their service is so extremely bad because it puts customers in a bad mood when they’re treated like crap.
Nightmare, horror and avoid at any cost… NEVER EVER EVER AGREE TO BE ACCOMMODATED in this s***hole.
We just come back and…. If you like sleeping with ants in your bed and cockroaches in your fridge then I’m guessing this hotel would be well suitable for you.
This is a farm not a hotel.
And perhaps the headline that said it all
HOTEL FROM HELL
Literally, there were plenty more like this (as well as photos of cockroaches) and we were laughing so raucously (cos it was either that or weep uncontrollably) that we started to freak people out around us!
Suffice to say I was concerned enough to take out emergency travel insurance from the departure lounge!
We finally boarded the plane and calculated that we’d be arriving in Cyprus at around midnight so grabbing some shut-eye on the plane was essential. However, I knew that it was going to be an ‘interesting’ flight when the Cypriot guy sat next to me tried putting his carry-on luggage under my seat! A 5 hour flight without leg room might just have pushed me over the edge, so I had to tell him straight,
You ain’t putting it under there bruv!
He cussed me out under his breath, sat down and soon we were airborne.
It was all a bit noisy really and when a young lady from Friends of the Earth decided to stand in the aisle next to me and strike up a loud conversation with a guy about ecology, war, politics and saving the world, the only hope of rescue was going to be found in listening to some tunes…and that’s when I discovered that my headphones were broken! I tried to sleep, but I couldn’t so I had no choice but to listen to literally 90 minutes of eco-diatribe before a patch of turbulence brought the conversation to an abrupt end.
So in the fog of tiredness and annoyance I started wondering why I had got up at stupid o’clock and chased a bus down the motorway in the fog. I thought about the frustration of a delayed plane and the discomfort of a flight that had so far been marked by rudeness, turbulence and the insult of having to actually pay for the worst food I’ve ever eaten. I mulled over whether risking my health and sanity to stay in The Hotel from Hell for 5 days was even worth it…
…and that’s when I got my perspective!
I was going to a wedding!
And not just any old wedding, I was going to a wedding in the sunshine on the mediterranean coast.
And not only that, it was my friend’s wedding!
And what’s more, he knew that I couldn’t afford to go so he even paid for my flight and my hotel!
That changed everything for me!
All of a sudden the list of gripes, complaints, discomforts, fears and frustrations went out of the window.
This journey was SO worth it!
It didn’t make me less tired or less uncomfortable. It just meant that focussing on the goal (and the grace that paid for me to get there) gave me a healthier perspective and hope-filled outlook.
I think it’s fair to say that one of the things that brought me to my senses was the book that my lack of headphones had ‘forced’ me to read on that flight. The book was Eternity Changes Everything by Stephen Witmer. The premise of the book is that focussing on the glorious eternity that is ours in Christ should change the trajectory of our lives and affect the way that we live in the here and now.
For those of who have trusted Christ, we have the promise that at the end of this life’s journey a wedding feast awaits! And this wedding makes even the most lavish mediterranean wedding pale in comparison because it’s the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. And like the angel said “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” (Revelation 19 v 9)
It’s the hottest ticket in town!
What’s more because of our wretchedness and rebellious hearts we NEVER could have afforded to be at this wedding – our sin had put it way out of our league. But the Lamb getting married is the same Lamb who “takes away the sin of the world” (John 1 v 29). By His atoning death in our place on the cross, Jesus literally paid our entrance fee with His own blood. That’s STAGGERING grace! I guess that’s why everyone at the feast is gonna be shouting stuff like:
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!
(Revelation 5 v 12)
But perhaps the craziest part of all isn’t that we are merely invited…it’s that we are the bride!
I guess this is where the illustration of my Cyprus trip breaks down – because I was just a guest, and yet I was still determined to be there. But my eagerness to be at that cliff-top ceremony was NOTHING next to the desire of the bride to be there! It was the day she’d been dreaming of and waiting for her whole life!
Guys, the journey is worth it not simply because we get to see the King of kings get married. It’s worth it because we get to marry the King of kings!
It sounds too good to be true…but it’s not! Check this out:
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
(Revelation 19 v 6-8)
Friends, this life is messy.
The journey is so often marked by pain, confusion, fears, doubts and delays. Tears are never far away and the concept of unbroken peace, joy, love and laughter is alien to us. But dig in. Hold on. Keep going. Those of us who are in Christ were never promised an easy journey but we are guaranteed a safe arrival. The way of the cross is hard but a crown awaits. The plane will soon land and the Lover of our souls awaits!
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.”
…He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
(Revelation 22 v 17 + 20)