Things are seldom as easy as they seem. For instance, standing in line six or so years ago to board our very first cruise, my husband and I were filled with excitement. This holiday couldn’t have come at a better time. We were exhausted and fatigued and with one week before we moved house, this was going to be the week of relaxation we so desperately needed.
How lovely it was that my in-laws could look after the children while we celebrated our wedding anniversary, and how nice it was going to be to have no cooking or cleaning to do. Yes, I was excited. This was to be the holiday I had dreamed of!
That was, of course, until we decided to use our time waiting in line to prepare the paperwork.
I reached into the backpack and pulled out the passport covers. Much to our horror and disbelief, only one passport was inside!
“That’s weird!” I said, “we even stopped the car to double check we had them just after we left the house.”
It turns out that it was the passport cases we had seen and not the actual passport!
But wait—it gets worse
Now, the predicament gets worse. Not only were we in line for a cruise that was to leave in only two hours, but our house was one hour’s drive away! So if we work out the math…we had exactly one hour for someone to drive to our house and (if they were lucky enough to even find the passport), one hour for them to drive back in time for us to board the ship. This was not going to be easy.
It was, however, our only hope. We made a call to my in-laws who had positioned themselves with our children beside the river to wave us off when the ship left. Thankfully they were up for the challenge! While my mother-in-law drove to their house nearby to see if we had left it there, my father-in-law took our car and began the drive to our house an hour away to see if the passport was there. At least we couldn’t say we didn’t try!
When all else fails…
We stood in line, unable to do anything but wait…and panic! Then the phone rang. “We had to stop for petrol!” Aaah! This was getting worse by the minute. Of course, we had not worried about putting more petrol in the car as we were going to be away. The clock was ticking and we were losing valuable minutes.
While we waited, we watched as the other passengers finalised their paperwork and boarded the ship. We watched the staff pack down all the chairs and tables leaving the room looking once again like an empty warehouse. We stood at the edge of the dock with one of the ship’s officers and last remaining staff who were hoping as much as we were that the passport would arrive in time, but it was not looking good. Our bags had been removed from the ship and were with us. Tears were shed and I began imagining my week not on that boat.
Working for our good
While we waited however, things were working for our good. When all things seemed to be working against us, the energy and determination of those we loved were working overtime for us.
“We really have only two minutes before we have to board,” said the officer, “but I’ll stay until the last possible second.”
With less than a minute to go, the ropes had been released and the gang plank prepared for final removal.We could hear the engines revving in anticipation of the pull-away. The Captain’s second in-charge stood beside us looking at her watch for the last possible seconds.
Just at that moment my son’s silhouette appeared in the distant doorway calling “Dad! We’ve got it!” My husband ran like never before to meet him. Without even a second for an embrace, the exchange was made and my husband was running back towards the ship and in one swift movement we leapt onto the ship with our bags like a scene in a movie, the door shutting behind us as the ship left the dock.
Needless to say, it took us three days to recover from that incident, but thankfully we were on a holiday well suited for recovery. On the final evening of the cruise, we were invited to have dinner with the captain of the ship. When we told him our story, his response (after a good belly-aching chuckle) was “Oh! So you’re that couple!”
Unfortunately we were that couple. But I can safely say, we learnt our lesson, and never again have we, nor anyone who has heard our story, ever forgotten their passport again.
Now for the biblical relevance
Have you ever noticed when things seem really bad, at some point the bad is met with equal good that has the power to override it. It’s like how climbing to the precipice of a mountain, with all it’s painstaking effort to get there, ends up being so very much worth the trial. While our trial was intense, it was only for a short and momentary time. To get the breakthrough, required efforts of extraordinary measures and things beyond our power.
When we are in the midst of life’s intense trials, and they seem to only escalate, at some point extraordinary measures meet the bad intensity with greater good intensity and something breaks and bad gives way to good. Strength rises to meet its adversary and in the process we realise how much we have grown with the experience.
While it is not our own strength that we can brag about in the overcoming of these obstacles, these trials are used by God to grow our strength and our faith in Him.
If we are never wanting or needing of anything, there is no reason to grow. We stay stagnant, and everyone knows that when water stands stagnant for too long, it begins to smell.
I’ve often wondered why such things happen in the first place, but with some distance from the experience, looking back you realise that all things do work out for good for those who love the Lord. While smooth-sailing sounds nice, it’s the bumps in the road that make us stronger and brings us together.
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” —2 Corinthians chapter 4 verses 17-18
originally published for Christian Today Australia, January 2018
(c) Rebecca Moore 2018