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Cape Town Diary. Part 1

“Bye, bye folorn Lowestoft for two weeks and hello Cape Town. We leave on a late Sunday morning in early April, underneath a bright blue sky for the promise of Spring and adventure.”

At Heathrow Airport, the flight is unusually only half an hour late to take off. Virgin ladies in branded uniforms welcome us on board with painted smiles and unknown lives.
Back and forth across continents they daily travel and every trip could be their last. Are they married, do they have children, do they wish for normal jobs and do they consider death?
Every time up in the sky I consider my fragility.
The flight safety instructions are never heeded; no one expects to survive an air-crash. Am I ready to meet Jesus? There is also the issue of being with my daughters Claire and Jenny again. And I would like it that all who remain of my family die together. I have become scared of any of us being able to cope with another loss. Twice bitten, thrice shy.

What it comes down to, is that I really must place every card with Jesus. Faith is not mere hope; it is a firm determination to stand on what I have believed and live accordingly.

We make the journey to Heathrow to catch a 6pm flight; we do not prepare for something that does not exist. Likewise, whether I think we could cope with another tragedy is not really the issue, it’s whether Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forevermore. If he was there for us back in 2006, he’ll be there in 2009. It’s all about standing on his word and not my worries. Anything less will cause paralysis, scared to push on and live life free of fear.

So we trundle slowly down the plane, jealously past the first-class seats to the rear end where the toilets sit and the meals await heating. As I pass the thrones of comfort I digest the leg room that I will not be stretching out in. I picture half the space for my economy leg-room and sure enough am not disappointed.

Economy class means you get everything last; last to get your meal and drinks, last to leave the plane and last to get your TV fixed when it won’t work properly. Throughout the twelve and a half hour flight the screen flickers and the sound cuts out at all the best times.

So instead I listened to my trusty IPOD as the flight labours on into the night and the morning dawn. Do I sleep? Does any tall bloke sleep when they can’t stretch their legs or lean to the left or right? Even worse the frumpy lady in front reclines her chair right back so that it nearly caresses my chest. Claustrophobia beckons.

Am I an economy Christian? How little I ask of God for more of him. Here I am with all my fears and the Bible tells me that “perfect love drives out all fear”. The principle is simply: the greater your walk with God, the less your fear. At times I have known it, an invincible feeling arising from being in his presence and experiencing the purity of his love. Nothing can come between us, no hardship … no grief.

So why not all the time? It seems that some promises of God are more embedded than others. Maybe I don’t really believe some of them, maybe I listen too much to other voices. Once again it comes down to the cards and placing them all with Jesus; full gospel not half, first class not economy.

This flight is taking ages! Every so often I take relief by standing in the gangway or watching other people’s TV’s. The best channel is the one tuned into the plane navigation system and showing exactly where we are. Down, down, down the world we fly, falling through France and over the Mediterranean into Algeria and the utter blackness of the Sahara. The ticking of time is replaced by the drone of the engine as we travel further down into Benin and then along the west coast of Africa. Did you know Angola is bigger than France, that Namibia is larger than the UK? Finally we are into South Africa, yet there are still a thousand miles to Cape Town.

Posted on 3rd May 2009

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