A storm had been forecasted for the Netherlands, but my 7:16 am train wasn’t delayed.
During the train ride problems started to arise, and I came late to my 10am class at the University of Amsterdam. After being in class for about an hour, the storm arrived. Videos started popping up on social media of people and bicycles literally being blown away by the wind and entire rooftops being removed. All trains were cancelled.
This was serious.
I realised that no train was going to take me home anytime soon. Too many trees had fallen on the track and the system needed to be repaired.
As the day was almost ending, I had given up hope. My home was 2 hours away. A train that would take me all the way to Groningen? No way. My friend offered me her couch in a city much closer to Amsterdam, and I settled for it. We went to the station and found to our surprise that the train we needed wasn’t cancelled. We gladly entered it with a large cup of Rooibos tea in our hands.
By the time we arrived, I had regained hope of reaching home. I thanked my friend for her kindness, but I wasn’t going to give up. In the meantime, people had stopped staring at their phones. Desperate travellers became more social than ever and a “we’re-in-this-together” feeling quickly arose. I managed to grab a train to another destination, this time 100 km closer to home.
A whole team of train personnel stood ready to give information. A guy in front of me asked them for directions in English. “Please ask the bus drivers outside” was the answer. While walking to the specially arranged bus, I saw the same guy returning to the station hall with a sad, tired look on his face. When I reached my bus, I discovered that the one next to mine was the one he needed. For a second I hesitated, but then I decided to run back to the station hall to tell the man he could go home. Together we quickly ran back and he didn’t stop thanking me for telling him.
I was amazed at how things went.
I felt convinced God had inspired me to warn him that he was about to miss what might have been his only option to go home, while helping me to get into my bus on time, too.
The bus driver was not driving his usual route and had no idea where to go to. Passengers helped him find the way.
Although I had full confidence that God would bring me to Groningen, when we entered the last station I began to doubt. There were no trains and no buses. After all, it was 11 pm already, who would still be out there? I decided to call my dad to pick me up.
Suddenly, I heard train personnel calling out, “Groningen platform 14, hurry!” A special, extra train to Groningen had been provided! I called my dad and thanked God for being so faithful. Though He had already convinced me that He would provide, I started to doubt and arranged my way myself. But once again God showed His faithfulness. All I needed to do was trust.
This life is a journey. Heaven is our destination. Storms and difficulties may arise, trying to take away the hope we have of a safe and secure arrival. Signs around us may tell us that home is still far off and that we’ll never reach it. We may lose hope and get discouraged.
But in the midst of our desperateness and doubt, God never leaves us nor forsakes us (Deut. 31:6). He may lead us into a different road than we ourselves had planned, a road less comfortable and easy, but He has promised to go with us.
The storm taught me four important lessons:
Don’t settle for less. Keep your eyes fixed on your destination. No matter how good it may feel to pause the struggle and rest, don’t be satisfied going halfway. We’ve been called to go all the way. Though halfway may be a good and comfortable place, remember that there is no place like Home.
Look up and trust. God is your Guide. He knows the way! He walked it Himself and has provided for us. You may get tempted to think that heaven is not for you, but have faith in the One who has promised you a safe arrival. You don’t need to take the steering wheel yourself. God patiently leads us step by step, calling us to follow the light He has shed right before us. At each new station we arrive, He is there waiting to give us indications on where to go next. And yes, sometimes He may say, “wait”. But until then, stay close to Him. You don’t want to end up taking the wrong train.
We’re in this together. God did not intend for us to walk this path alone. We’re here to support each other. To warn each other not to delay, but to catch our bus homeward. Let’s talk to the people around us and see if we can brighten their way. We’re not meant to watch our screens 24/7, however tempting or at times necessary that may seem. Our friends, strangers, and even our leaders need our support. They’re not perfect and need our prayers and assistance. Only then can we reach home together safely.
Count your blessings. Things in life don’t go the way you had planned, but that is no excuse for leaving God’s present blessings unappreciated. It may be cold outside, but be grateful for your free cup of Rooibos tea. There are joys in travelling through life together, joys in giving and helping each other. The road may be tough, but there are beautiful moments along the way. Let’s not overlook these blessings, but cherish them and be thankful.
At 1am I arrived home; exhausted, but so happy! The joy of arriving home after a long journey is just a glimpse of what we will feel once we reach our heavenly Home.
Let’s grab the hand He offers us. He knows where to lead. He sees the end from the beginning and His ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 46:10; 55:9).
Let us trust Him, stay close to Him, keep our eyes fixed on Him alone, and together move forward to the beautiful destination He has promised us.