Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Passport (07/25/05)
TITLE: Passport to Heaven (i)
By janet rubin
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I stood huddled in a group of excited travelers, waiting to get through customs at Kennedy Airport in New York. After months of planning and waiting, at the age of thirty-three, I was leaving behind my husband, my children and my little hometown to exit the country for the very first time. I was going, along with seventeen others members of my church, to Israel- The Holy Land. Soon I would walk where Jesus walked, sail on the Sea of Galilee and explore the city of Jerusalem! But only if I could get through customs.
I opened up my purse and checked for the hundredth time to make sure I still had my passport. Seeing it safely tucked in, I sighed with relief. I closed my purse, and then opened it again. “I’m getting near the front of the line- better just hold my passport in my hand,” I decided.
A month earlier I had gotten my first passport, in the mail. The moment I had it in my possession, I began to panic. The passport ranked right up there in importance with a winning million-dollar lottery ticket; one of those items, you simply can’t lose! You see, I knew myself too well. I’m one of those creative, spontaneous types, known for forgetting appointments, repeatedly locking keys in vehicles and forever losing things. My husband threatens to staple my purse to me to prevent me from leaving it places! Knowing my absent-minded tendencies, I chose a place to keep the passport and made a careful mental note of where I was putting it, recalling the many times I had put things in a “safe place”, only to forget where that “safe place” was. Losing my passport would mean no trip to Israel and I wouldn’t let that happen!
The morning of my trip I retrieved my passport, (congratulating myself for remembering its location) and put it in my purse. All morning I had been absolutely obsessive-compulsive, checking, checking and rechecking to make sure I still had it. While I waited in line, I spied a little girl, slouching on a bench, her sandal-clad feet propped on a large suitcase. On her lap sat an obviously much-loved stuffed elephant. The two of them gazed out the window, while the little girl hummed a tune. I assumed her parents were in line like me. The site reminded me of my childhood family vacations. Back then I didn’t have to worry about things like tickets, money or passports. My parents took care of such matters and I was just along for the ride. “How nice to be a child,” I thought.
Moments later, a sober-looking man asked me for my passport and I triumphantly handed it through the plastic window. I half-expected a gold star for producing it, but the man simply looked at it, unimpressed, and passed it back. It wouldn’t be the only time I would need my passport, but I had survived the first checkpoint.
After checking bags, browsing in overpriced airport gift shops and doing lots of waiting, I finally sat buckled into an aisle seat of an El Al airplane. Soon we would be airborne. I pondered the various possible airline catastrophes: crashing, terrorists, hijacking, etc. I had spent plenty of time fretting over losing my passport, but ironically, none of these potential disasters really concerned me. “Lord, my times are in Your hands,” I prayed. “If my life were to end on this flight, I know I’d be in Heaven with You.” I knew this with certainty. Because I had accepted Jesus, I was a child of God and my reservation had been made in Heaven. It was Jesus who had paid my way for that trip and when my life ended, He would lead me home. I recalled a verse I had read that morning in Ephesians: “Having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession…”
“Hah! That is my passport. The Holy Spirit! I can’t lose that one, can I Lord?”
Concerning my trip to Heaven, my Father had taken care of everything. When the time came, I would just be along for the ride like the little girl with the elephant, who now sat across from me munching peanuts. Smiling, I closed my eyes and decided to rest without checking again for my passport. I knew it was safe.
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