It's easy to take a place for granted, especially when you live there. Which is why I'm often reminded of how truly special it is, each and every time I travel away for work. Why every time I step off the plane on my return trip, I think to myself, yes, this place is different. It is special.
What do I mean by 'special?'. Well just two weeks ago I was being shuttled from my car to the airport when the driver mentioned he was interviewing for a high school soccer coach position later that day. I asked if he would like us to pray for him, right then and there, he said that he would. So before unloading our luggage at curbside we stopped and said a prayer together in the shuttle van.
It is common to start conversations that end with 'God bless you' around here. On my way home at 2am my Mom (who now travels with me to watch my baby while I lead Church services and give concerts) and I began talking about a man we met on the plane who represented (in law) the filmmaker of the Christian movie 'God's Not Dead'. Yet another shuttle driver began to share his favorite Christian movie 'Facing the Giants' and we had a beautiful conversation, before he gifted me with 3 days of free airport parking for my next trip!
In contrast, I was in a city where I used to live, a city of 'glitz' and 'glamour', just days before. Every time I go it feels the Holy Spirit has withdrawn just a tiny bit more. Although I still have beautiful friends who live in L.A. I can almost feel the sin and crime in certain areas. My eyes only saw two types of people around me. Those that were barely struggling to survive, crippled and deformed by drugs and alcohol, and those that were filled with arrogance and self love to the point they could not stop for 1 moment to notice the one needing a helping hand, unless a camera was rolling and they could get recognition for their incredible kindness - they simply couldn't be bothered.
I had brief conversations with several affluent people and realized, in shame and regret, that I hesitated to say 'God bless you' as we parted in fear of sparking a debate. I half way got it out to 1 women who was walking away and thought 'what is wrong with me!!'.
As we made our way to leave we were back on a shuttle to the airport, this one very crowded. My knees faced a well dressed, mid 20's man who was very adamant with the driver that she not miss his gate to be dropped off. As he opened and began to intensely read the Koran, it was apparent that those sitting next to him became terrified. This young man fit the profile. He had entered the bus carrying nothing more than a backpack. He nervously texted, while shielding the screen from any nosey on-lookers, his eyes darted and fixated on law enforcement vehicles. My Mom began to hum a favorite hymn. Every person nearly ran off the bus at their gate stop. We were second to last with only ourselves and this gentleman left. It was a strange juxtaposition of wanting to alert someone while feeling guilty for profiling and stereotyping. All we could do was pray that he was an innocent, non-violent man.
After a long flight home, filled with exhaustion. We waited at baggage claim. Still feeling somewhat gritty from our escapades in the city of lost Angels. I overheard a young man behind me. He was describing his new book to someone. "It's intended to help young men in the Church find their purpose to serve" and in that moment I knew I was back home. Back in a place where Jesus was familiar, where faith was real, where Christianity was assumed and prayer was visible. Of course, this place is not perfect and bad things still happen. But it's one of the best places I have felt on this earth.
I can't wait to go home. I can't wait to be amongst fellow believers. I can't wait to feel the presence of the Lord. I can't wait... for Heaven.
To be in a place where everyone around me is filled with joy, love and peace. A place where only good things happen. A place of safety, freedom, healing and beauty. A place where Jesus, my Lord and Savior, lives.
This long race we face is one that we must endure. We must continue pressing forward. For in the end the prize awaits. Heaven is our home. This is just a temporary stop on our journey to Eternity. Don't let the things of this world bring you down. For if we keep our eyes focused on the One who calls us out. This world will surely grow dim. I can't wait to go home, can you?
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