“Life is a Journey…. Destination Unknown”

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These words, in block capitals and emblazoned on a man’s t-shirt, hit me between the eyes as I emerged from revolving hospital doors into the bright sunshine. People in dressing gowns puffed desperately on cigarette butts as they leaned wearily against poles on my route to the car park. A man sitting on a wheelchair with amputated legs stared through me, his eyes empty and sorrowful, as if this life had left him in a state of permanent shock, which perhaps indeed it had….

Earlier inside, a lady with a tumour on the side of her head sat waiting for the countdown… soon her number would be called to have a blood test. Tired pale patients sat on endless rows of chairs, staring at the floor or reading newspapers, or with their eyes glued to their iPhones; such is everyday life in a public hospital in Ireland. I had seen many come out of consultant’s rooms, tears filling their eyes. In other parts of the hospital revealing scans were taking place, suffering bodies lay in pain and sometimes a priest could be seen hurrying along down a corridor….

As I started up the car, I whispered… “Why, why do I find myself in this terrible place?” This place where the police are called to frequently, especially to the A & E Department, when someone addicted to something loses their cool. Hospitals are not pleasant places – but this one less so than most.

Then I feel regret for having such a thought as this and I thank the Lord from the bottom of my heart for all He has done for me and for loved ones.

I thank Him for the health and strength that He has given me, despite the fact that I am “not getting any younger” as the saying goes. I thank Him that He left the realms of glory to come down to this suffering sinful world. I thank Him for His love for all and how He wants nothing more than that ill, burdened and heartbroken souls repent, trust and rest in Him for all their tomorrows.

Life is a Journey… but the destination is not unknown for those who give their lives to Him and put their trust in Him for whatever life brings their way. I drive home from the polluted city to my humble home in the lovely countryside where our sleeping cats purr happily beside bright flowers in the garden and the wind blows softly through the leafy trees. Thank you Lord for leaving your Home, your beautiful and glorious Home in glory to come to such a world as this – and not only to come, but to die for all that they might find that peace that passes all understanding – that peace and tranquillity that transcends life’s darkest moments, in the knowledge that someday they might live in that beautiful Home with You, free from the sorrow and pain of this life.

If life was smooth, carefree and I never had to look on, or experience, suffering, I would be of little use in this old world.  As I gaze at the flowers, the second verse of Isaac Watt’s hymn “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” comes to mind as I think on these things…

“Must I be carried to the skies

On flow’ry beds of ease,

While others fought to win the prize,

And sailed through bloody seas?”

 

Yes Lord, if you have a purpose in my visits to places of suffering and if you want me to speak to some soul or souls, I will go in Thy strength. Thank you Lord for contacts already made and someone still in contact.

And thank you, Lord, for the heritage of beautiful hymns left to us by souls who walked closely with you down through the centuries. One such soul was Isaac Watts (1674-1748) who gave his heart to the Lord at the tender age of fifteen. This forerunner of English hymn-writers left a truly wonderful legacy of over six hundred hymns, many of which still encourage heavy hearts today… “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross; Alas, and did my Saviour Bleed?; Jesus shall reign, wher’er the sun; Not all the Blood of Beasts on Jewish Altars Slain; Our God, our help in ages past…” I quote the last verse and the chorus of “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” which speaks to my heart at this time in my life…

 

“Since I must fight if I would reign,

Increase my courage Lord!

I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain

Supported by Thy Word.

 

In the Name, the precious Name

Of Him who died for me,

Thro’ grace I’ll win the promised crown,

Whate’er my cross may be.”

 

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