A few weeks ago I ran into an old time friend of mine from my time as a student of the Hogeschool Amsterdam. We started talking and conjuring up a lot of jokes and hilarious situations whilst in our student time. I remember one such joke he told me at the time we were still young and crazy students that has me laughing up until this day. He had a student job, at the time, as a cleaner of airplanes at Schiphol Airport. He told me that every cleaning team, every morning, would start their shift with the same prayer: ‘Oh Lord, please, do not let our team clean the plane that came from Paramaribo (Suriname) today!’
If you got the joke, you’re either Surinamese or you have been on a flight to- and back from Suriname. For you would know that Surinamese folk travel with a lot of food! Vegetables, fruits and drinks of every kind, and… perhaps the most terrifying of all foods: fish! All those smells mix and give a certain aroma to go along with the 9,5 hour flight. And if your nose isn’t drowsy by all the mixture of smells, the lavatories will finish the job and guarantee a flat out K.O.! You see, despite the ‘non-smoking’ rule, there will be at least a dozen of Surinamese passengers that will take that rule as ‘optional,’ and smoke a quickie on the toilet. No wonder no cleaning team wants the airplane that just came from Paramaribo. The flight is an absolute time of tribulation! But here’s the thing: we Surinamese don’t care about it. Surinamese people are too focussed upon their destination to care about the discomforts of the journey. That’s why we never say: ‘oh dear, we are about to experience a time of tribulation of about 10 long hours! Help us, help us.’ Neither do we demand that every conversation about traveling to Suriname should require an exhaustive elaboration on the tribulation time in the air.
I believe Seventh-day Adventists should all be Surinamese people traveling to their homeland in that regard: we should stop focussing too much on the ride, and start focussing more on our arrival at our final destination, which is the New Jerusalem. Too often, young Adventists (young in faith–that is) feel that all we should talk about, all day long and in every gathering, is the time of tribulation. Why waste valuable time on just a phase, nothing more than a journey, instead of investing time on what is waiting for us once this flight is over and the plane has landed? A good Seventh-day Adventist, over against a cultural Adventist, will always tell you that we believe in the grace of God for how we’ll endure the time of tribulation: either God will put you to rest if you will not be able to withstand, or he will keep you alive if He knows you will manage. So who cares about that time? Let it come! It’s nothing more than flight time, a bumpy ride towards the final destination. If we are convinced that we are on the Lord’s side, as we like to sing, who cares about what road is ahead of us? I most certainly don’t. I’m leaning on the Lord’s side, which is the winning side; I’m not about to loose time on the side of the losers. Let’s start focussing on our final destination. By the way… are you sure you have all the necessary documents to be on that flight in the first place????