Friday, 31 December 2010

Some Thoughts on Travel Chaos

Last week, while travelling back to Ireland to visit family for Christmas, I found myself caught up in what the newspapers called "Travel Chaos". Because of heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures a number of airports came to a standstill. This left many passengers stranded in airports, far from where they would have liked to have been.

During attempt number two to travel to Ireland I found myself spending the day in Heathrow airport, which meant I was able to get a first hand glimpse of this "Travel Chaos". It was interesting to note people's reactions to not being able to travel where they would wish.

One of the most common responses was summed up by a woman standing next to me in a queue at the 'Aer Lingus' helpdesk. "I just feel so helpless", she said. This was the response of many, a feeling of being completely out of control and unable to do anything about their situation. For some, this led to them getting angry with the airline and its workers. I sympathised with the woman, and agreed that it was not nice to be feeling helpless to do anything about our situation.

However, as I walked away from the helpdesk I also began to wonder whether this feeling of helplessness was such a bad thing. This sense of powerlessness that was experienced by countless fellow travellers is a reminder of something important. It is a reminder that God is God and we are not. This is something that we all need to recognise.

This may sound obvious, but it is something that we as humans desperately try to ignore. This is because we like to put ourselves in the place of God. We do not want Him ruling over us, we want to set ourselves up as rulers. We want to live as if we were God, calling the shots and doing things the way we want to.

But this bubble is burst when we realise that there are things in this world that we are completely unable to control. We can do nothing about the weather, we have no power to change it. The heavy snow and freezing temperatures that brought airports to a standstill reminds us just how weak we really are. It reminds us that we are not God, and we do not have the power to rule in His place. It is simply impossible for us. He alone has such power, He alone is in complete control over the weather (Job 38:22-24; Mark 4:35-41), and over all things which He has made. Before Him we stand helpless. He can effortlessly bring to nothing the plans and schemes of human beings. He is God and we are not.

This means that it is utterly foolish for us to think that we can rebel against Him and expect to win. We simply do not have the power. God is the Creator who is in absolute control over the whole of His creation. We are creatures who are utterly dependant upon Him for all things. The fact that our Christmas travel plans are frustrated by bad weather is a gracious reminder of this and ought to bring us to recognise our rightful place before God and give Him the honour He is due. We can try and rebel and overthrow His rule through Jesus (Psalm 2:1-3), yet God finds this laughable (Psalm 2:4) because it is ridiculous to think that the creation can fight against the Creator and win! Therefore, the wise thing to do is to submit to God's rule through His Son, the Lord Jesus (Psalm 2:10-12).

So next time we make travel plans let us make it an opportunity to remember our rightful place, that God is God and we are not. As we make plans, let us learn say with James "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." (James 4:15).