On the Friday before my last Sabbath in Ghana, I felt an onset of the malaria fever. I recognized instantly the same abdominal pain from the first time. This was one visitor whose return I had not anticipated.
I decided to call my parents for counsel. I was especially concerned because I would be travelling back home that same weekend, and could not afford to be sick. My parents were concerned, and told me to tell my aunt, but I was hesitant to disturb her while she was sleeping.
By some miracle, I ended up not having to wake her. Perhaps it was my father’s call that woke her up, I don’t know. All I know was that within minutes, her door opened, and she stepped out and found me in the living room. When I told her what was wrong, she gave me pills, and in a state of panic, I took them. Now looking back, I wish that I hadn’t made such a rash decision. I wish I had panicked less, and prayed more. After I took the pills, I went to bed, but not before putting a bucket beside my bed in the case of any upchuck.
On Sabbath morning, I woke up with no stomach pains or nausea, although I was still feeling a bit fatigued. Still, I decided to push these feelings aside, and made myself ready for church.
After some time, a cab pulled up in front of my aunt’s house, to take me to church. The cab driver was young (I would say in his late teens or early 20s), and pleasant. He skillfully made rough turns, while conversing about the brutality of Ghanaian political leaders. As he continued talking, I came under a deep impression to lead the conversation elsewhere. I wanted to share spiritual truths with the cab driver. On the way to church, we talked about the Sabbath, the state of the dead, and the second coming of Christ. It was the most thrilling ride of my life! By the time we arrived at the church, there was no trace of weakness left in me. I had been completely restored to strength.
After church, I walked on the grounds of Valley View University’s campus, while I waited for my ride. I sang worship songs in gratitude to God, who had been with me from beginning to end. He truly is a wonderful God. While singing, the wind picked up and the pages of my Bible started turning automatically…as if someone was turning them. When they stopped turning, I drew closer to see what passage it had stopped at. When I saw the text, I could not believe my eyes:
“And he said unto me, my grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, 10).
It was as if God was speaking to my heart, and it was just the take-home message that I needed.
Longing for Home...
On Sunday evening, I arrived at the airport. I don’t think there was ever a moment in my life, when I had been more eager for anything in my life. I watched the people dart from here to there in zig-zags that shot all over the airport. All I could think about was boarding the plane that would take me home.
I waited off to the side, as my aunt talked to one of the airline attendants, to find out where I should be waiting. I took a quick glance at her face after some period of time, and my stomach churned. From the look I saw, I knew something was wrong. When I approached her, it was then that she told me that the flight I was to take to London (I had a connecting flight from London to Toronto) had been delayed. It had been re-scheduled to leave early the next morning. The airline attendant gave us one of two options: I could either go back home, and return the next day (which she didn’t recommend), or stay in the hotel accommodation that had been arranged for the passengers of the delayed flight.
I decided to accept the airline’s accommodations, although staying an extra night was not easy. While the hotel I stayed in could have easily been considered five-star, I could not enjoy these luxuries, because the longing in my heart to go home was unbearable. I could hardly sleep the whole night, and was even the first person downstairs ready to board the shuttle bus that would take us back to the airport, around 3 in the morning.
At this point, I had not been in touch with my family, because the services for my phone had been cut off, and to top it all off, my battery had died. I had no way of letting my concerned family members know that I was okay.
In addition to that, I almost missed the plane I was to take to London, because I left my purse with the airport security, and had to run back to retrieve it. Upon arriving in London, there was even more headache. I had missed my first connecting flight, so I was advised to rebook another one. I soon found out though that this too had been delayed. Throughout the evening, my flight would end up being delayed at least three times, which they would later cite was due to mechanical difficulties. A plane that had been scheduled to leave at six in the evening, would not end up departing until eleven in the night.
I had never been tested like this before. I felt with each delay, that my patience was about to wear thin. I wandered the airport, read books (and could have finished each one, had I committed to it), slept, Facebook messaged my sister, ate, slept some more, and then wandered again….Throughout one of my aimless wanderings in the airport, I began to wonder if I would ever make it home.
During this period, as one can imagine, I had lots of time to think. Waiting revealed to me certain undesirable traits within myself (Impatience, anxiety, distrust in God…).
Also, during this long waiting period, as I felt my desire to go home become even stronger. I don’t think I had ever had such a strong desire to go home like this before. Then, as I reflected some more, I recognized something even deeper: I had never experienced such an intense longing like this to go Home…to Heaven. It pained me as I thought about this, and I became ashamed. For me to say that I loved Christ, and yet not possess a deep desire to want to go to Heaven to be with Him, was actually quite sad. If I had only longed for the Heavenly courts as I should, the way that I lived should reflect this. I had to keep in mind that this earth was not my final home, and therefore, I should not be getting so comfortable here. There was lots of work to be done, but I knew that I needed to long for Home even more than I longed to go back to Toronto at that moment. In this way, I would sense the urgency, and do my part to hasten the Lord’s coming. It was quite the revelation, and it came to me, in an airport.
As well, during a time that I felt disconnected from friends and family, God revealed to me that I was not alone. Most of all, He wanted me to remain connected to Him, and not depend on others for my strength and happiness. I needed to remain plugged in to Him as the true Source, so that my battery would never die…
When it was finally time to board the plane, I almost missed it again. I had been trying to make a quick call to my dad, to tell him of my arrival time. (The airline could not give me this information until just about the time we were about to leave… and of course, I had no cell phone to call home, so I ended up using a payphone).
Funny, I had waited so long, and yet, when it was really time to leave, I was not ready. The airline attendant looked at me strangely, as I made haste to board the plane. She asked me: “What were you doing all this time?” By the time I made my way on the plane, everyone was already seated.
On the flight home to Toronto, I moved around my seat in anticipation. I was finally going home. I had been pruned and shaped in ways I had never been before, and I had also seen God’s mighty hand at work. I went deeper still in my relationship with God, and my faith and courage had been considerably strengthened.
I landed at Toronto Pearson Airport two days later than planned, and found myself near tears. I was finally home.
Glory Belongs to God