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A most important destination

October 27, 2008

by Pastor Russ Doebler, Blessed Hope Church, Howard Lake

Dusk was settling, and I was alone. To the north, the leopard-infested jungle of Belize. To the south, Dangriga Town, inhabited with – for all I knew – potential looters.

It was my first experience on the mission field, and I was assigned the task of delivering two colossal suitcases, bursting with supplies, for an orphanage. I was also carrying about $2,000 cash to give to themissionaries.

The 15-minute flight from Belize City in the 14-seater aircraft was uneventful and beautiful. The Dangriga airport had just one landing strip cut out of the jungle. The “terminal” consisted of three sheds: two sheds for the two airlines that fly there, and another shed for tools or something.

A man stepped out of the Tropicana Airlines building, locked the door, and asked me in his English Creole, “Do you have a ride?”

“I sure hope so,” I answered. Then he was gone. With no lights for the runway, the airport closed at night.

It was getting dark, and I was alone with looters and leopards. It was unnerving. I had too much luggage to carry, and even if I could move it, where would I go? Into the city to be mugged?

The other option, guarding the supplies from jungle life, didn’t sound any better. After what seemed like an eternity, my ride moseyed up to airstrip, completely oblivious to the fact that I felt like I was in mortal danger.

A year later, I found myself abandoned again, this time in a Mexican airport. Again, I was delivering costly goods to missionaries, and again, no one was there to meet me. At least that time, I was in a modern airport frequented by tourists. But the haunting thought, “They forgot me!” was screaming in my skull.

I seem to have a knack for being forgotten in foreign airports. The worst was two years ago, in San José, Costa Rica. My wife and I had brought our three daughters, ages 10, 13, and 16 at the time, on a family missions trip. The plan was a week in a Costa Rica language school, followed by a children’s crusade in Mexico.

But we found ourselves stranded in a foreign airport, where blonde hair attracted too much attention. While other travelers made their connections smoothly, we waited hopefully by the curb as the clock inched toward midnight. But our driver didn’t show up.

I called my contacts, but they didn’t answer the phone. With luggage for five, we could neither retreat nor defend ourselves if someone had stepped from the darkness to help himself to our goods. I was beginning to miss the Belizean leopards. Eventually, we had to call a cab and we spent the night in a nearby hotel.

Being forgotten, left out, or left behind can be disappointing, or even terrifying. Though my airport experiences were a little nerve-wracking, I eventually reached my destinations.

But there is a more important destination in life, and I don’t want to miss my ride. That destination is heaven.

A few years ago, the “Left Behind” series gained a lot of attention about end-times events and the “rapture” of the church. There are differing views on how those events will occur, but the thought of being left behind by God is a sobering, frightening thought.

You and I may interpret the Bible differently about the end of the world, but one thing the Bible is very clear on is the end of your life. Every one of us, no matter how important or ordinary we think we are, will stand before God.

According to the Bible, only those who committed themselves to a life of obedience to Jesus Christ will gain access to heaven. Those who have not been obedient to Christ through faith will be left out, a feeling that makes facing the jungle of Belize seem like a trip to a theme park.

If you don’t know what it means to live your life dedicated to God, I encourage you to talk to your pastor or a friend who can explain it to you. Make sure you have that conversation before your flight is scheduled to leave earth!