February 21, 2005
THERE’S ONLY ONE!
In December, Gwen and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary. We were married in 1994. We spent part of our honeymoon in Toronto, and the rest of it in Niagara Falls. Typically we don’t spend a lot of time or money celebrating our anniversaries. But since this was number ten, we decided try to make it more special than usual. We decided to go back to Niagara Falls and revisit some of the places where we spent our first days as a married couple. For the most part, we had a great time. But there was at least one scary situation that turned out to be a real memory in the making. Looking back on it now, it is somewhat humorous. At the time, we weren’t laughing.
We had spent plenty of time and money preparing for our getaway. We didn’t think to buy gifts for each other. One afternoon we decided to stop at a gift shop and buy a gift for each other that would help us celebrate our anniversary and remember our trip to Niagara Falls. We decided to split up so that each of us could browse through different gift shops and make our purchases without the other seeing what we had chosen. We wanted to keep the element of surprise and increase the adventure. We parked the van on the side of the road near a few gift shops. We fed the parking meter some change, and decided that Gwen would shop near where the van was parked. I was going to walk down the street a bit and shop a little further away. We set our meeting time, and were just about ready to set off on our shopping adventure. Gwen realized she wasn’t wearing a watch to know when her time was up. I was wearing a watch, and also remembered that our cell phones displayed the time. We both have a cell phone, so it seemed that the problem was solved. However, Gwen’s phone was buried somewhere in her purse, and she couldn’t find it. Rather than waste any valuable time, I just gave her my phone. Now we would each know the time and be able to meet before the meter expired and arrive at our restaurant on time for dinner. We had reservations at the Skylon Tower, and didn’t want to be late.
We parted ways, with Gwen sticking close to the van and I walking down the road a bit. Before I started off, I looked around for a distinguishing landmark to remind myself of where we were parked. I looked up and saw the bright yellow sign of the Day’s Inn. It seemed that this would be easily visible from down the road in either direction. I walked down the road, going in and out of several gift shops looking for just the right gift/souvenir. It was difficult to find something appropriate, so I visited several stores. Finally, after several attempts, I found a store that had what I wanted. I checked my watch, and saw that I had timed it perfectly. I would have plenty of time to complete my purchase and walk back to our meeting place.
I walked out to the street, looked back in the direction from which I had come, and set off. After walking a block or so, the Day’s Inn sign was plain to see. I was only a few blocks away, and was glad that I’d make it back on time. As I got closer and closer to the Day’s Inn, I noticed that our van was not parked where I left it. Gwen had the keys, because we knew she’d probably make it back before me. I wondered where she could have gone, and why she’d decide to drive anywhere when she knew I’d be looking for the van after I finished my shopping. I decided to walk up and down the road a bit to see if maybe I had looked in the wrong parking spot. Unfortunately, no matter where I looked, I didn’t see the van. The sun was beginning to set, and it was becoming more difficult to recognize the area where the van was supposed to be. I wandered further and further from the Day’s Inn, trying to figure out where the van was parked. All the while I was hoping that Gwen wasn’t lost, or driving around Niagara Falls looking for me. I decided to call her, since we both have a cell phone. But then I remembered: I didn’t have my cell phone, Gwen did! What was I thinking to give away my cell phone when she already had one? Well at least I could try to call her on my cell phone, and hopefully she’d answer it. I stopped at a pay phone and dialed the number. The operator came on the line and told me to deposit $4.10. I certainly didn’t have $4.10 in change in my pocket, so this idea was not going to work.
At this point, a bit of panic was setting in. Here we are in Niagara Falls, probably within shouting distance of each other, but clueless as to where the other one is waiting. I thought I knew where I was, but neither Gwen nor my van was waiting there like I expected. There was no way for Gwen to contact me, so the pressure was on me to try to contact her. Since a pay phone was not an option, I decided to walk into the Day’s Inn and ask at the desk if I could use their phone.
I walked in to the Day’s Inn and explained my situation to the receptionist. She very graciously allowed me to use their phone with no charge. She dialed my cell phone number and handed me the phone. After several rings, I heard a familiar voice on the other end. A connection! Gwen answered the phone and immediately I asked, “Where are you?” Her answer was somewhat shocking to me. She told me that she was standing right outside the Day’s Inn. That seemed impossible. I was standing inside the Day’s Inn looking out at the street. I could see neither her nor our van. My sense of relief and hope was beginning to fade away. I was so glad to hear Gwen’s voice, but it seemed the distance between us was just as great as it was before we connected by phone.
Then I had an idea. Maybe there are two Day’s Inns in Niagara Falls, and we’re each waiting at a different one. I asked the receptionist if there was more than one Day’s Inn in Niagara Falls. Very matter-of-factly she answered, “Yes, there are six.” Six?!?! There was no way I could hunt for five more Day’s Inns until I got the right one. So we each looked out the window of the Day’s Inn where we were we were waiting and chose another landmark that we could each see from where we were waiting. Within ten minutes we were reunited at our new meeting place. We made it before the parking meter expired, and we got to the restaurant in time to keep our dinner reservations. What a relief! I don’t think I could have handled the thought of Gwen wandering around the streets of Niagara Falls alone looking for me as darkness began set in. I had quite a sense of urgency to find her.
Looking back on the incident, I’m reminded of the parables Jesus told in Luke 15. One is about a lost sheep. Although the shepherd had 100 sheep, when one was lost he left the other 99 to go and find the one that was missing. The next story is about a lost coin. A woman had ten silver coins, and lost one. She lit a lamp and swept her entire house to find the missing coin. The third story is about a son who left home with his inheritance from his father, and lived in rebellion, wasting what he had received from his father. In these stories, there is a sense of urgency to find what lost and great celebration was when what was lost was found. The shepherd, the woman, and the father all rejoiced over finding what was precious to them.
Maybe you’ve been in a situation where you’ve been lost. It can be scary and very confusing. Even if you haven’t been physically lost like I was in Niagara Falls, the Bible says that every one of us either has been, or currently is, spiritually lost. Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Sin is what makes us lost and keeps us separated from God. God took the initiative to find us and make a way for us to connect with Him. John 3:16 says that God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, Jesus, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. Jesus is the only way to make the connection with God. Acts 4:12 tells us that salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. When it comes to connecting with God, it isn’t like the Day’s Inns in Niagara Falls. There aren’t six saviors representing six ways to reach God. Jesus is the only One. There need not be any confusion, and no difficulty communicating with the One who is trying to find us. He is the only way. Jesus himself said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
In your journey through life, make sure you’re making the right connection. Make the relationship with your Heavenly Father your first priority. He’s been trying to reach you; allow yourself to be found. Make sure His cross is your landmark.
The love and care of God, expressed through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, is the greatest love you’ll ever experience. Surrendering to Him is the best choice you could ever make. His love is greater that anything in this world. His actions toward us are motivated by His love. God is love, and cannot act outside of His love. Jeremiah 29:11 God says that He knows the plans He has plans for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. You will call upon Him and come and pray to Him. You will seek Him and find Him when you seek Him with all your heart. Again, He is the only way, and we must seek Him with singular focus. We cannot divide our desires and passions six ways to search for six different spiritual destinations or saviors like the six Days Inns. Jesus is the only way.
If you’ve sensed that something is missing in your life and you’ve been searching, Jesus can fill your emptiness. All you need to do is ask Him to come and begin a relationship with you. Ask him to forgive you for the wrong you’ve done. Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 1 John 1:9 says that if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Forgiveness from sin is a free gift from God. Jesus did all the work by dying on the cross. We don’t need to do anything to earn or pay for His forgiveness; we simply need to ask for it.
If you’ve never done so, ask God to forgive your sins and come into your life. If you have questions about it or need help understanding how this is done, I’d be happy to do what I can; email me!
My most recent MRI was on February 10. The results showed that the tumor is stable; no new growth and nothing spreading. God is continuing to sustain me and give me strength. I’m doing well. I’m still praying for complete healing, and I ask that you would do the same. Prayer is powerful. Actually, it should be said that God is powerful. Praying in faith to Him is the way we tap into the power He makes available to us as His children
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