Saturday, June 11, 2005

Beats Gloucester

I had eagerly anticipated my trip to Gloucester all week, and so I arrived early at London's King's Cross Station to catch the train.

My hopes were dashed, however, as I looked at the departure board, and noted that train service to Gloucester had been cancelled. Now, my plan was ruined! I was angry and disappointed. Why couldn't those idiots fix the railroad tracks any other day besides when I'm on sabbatical hoping to go to Gloucester? Now, my plan was ruined! Ruined!

Forlorn and frustrated, I sat down at King's Cross Station, hunching-- until I recalled Bill's instructions. Bill, my sabbatical advisor from the Louisville Institute, reminded me to stay positive when things go wrong -- "Because I guarantee something WILL go wrong," he said. "It will rain! They will lose your luggage! You will miss your bus or plane -- but don't let that ruin your journey! You can determine ahead of time to stay positive regardess of what happens! When you have the right attitude, it's no problem -- just an unexpected adventure!"

Am I not a man of faith? "Disappointment is His Appointment!", I've always preached, " God has it all under control! He always has a plan. He loves us far too much to waste our disappointments."
Maybe I should practice what I preach instead of sitting around stewing.

A new idea popped into my mind -- Plan B. Wasn't the British Library near King's Cross Station? A malfunctioning train didn't have to ruin my day. Perhaps, I could salvage something after all.

Oh, I am so thankful that the rail service was cancelled! I hiked a couple of blocks spent a splendid day in the British Library. What a treasure! What a delight! Looking back, it was one of the best experiences of my trip!

I've always thought of libraries as gold mines. This one is the Mother Lode!

During my unexpected adventure, I saw The Magna Charta, Da Vinci's notebook, Newton's Journal, the the original pennings of Shakespeare, Emily Bronte', and Lewis Carrol (Alice in Wonderland).

I found ancient biblical scrolls, one of the rare Gutenberg Bibles, and the inspiring Scriptures translated by Tyndale and Wycliffe. Scrawled in the margin of an old Norman text was the very first English translation of a Bible verse! I wondered, "Who did that?" Who cared enough to bring the Gospel to my people -- to speak my language?

For a preacher like me, that was like setting a kid loose in a candy shop!

Gaining access to the archives, I was privileged to hold and read personal handwritten letters by Dickens, Kipling, and my hero, John Wesley -- and our souls touched.

One of the special treasures was discovering musical manuscripts of the great composers -- Beethoven, Handel and Bach.

Interestingly, Bach always began each composition with "J.J." (Jesu Juva -- Help Me, Jesus) or "INJ" (In Nomine Jesu -- in the Name of Jesus.) He ended each one with "SDG" (Soli Deo Gloria -- To God Alone, the Glory.)

I thought, "That's how I ought to live: the "J.J.", "INJ", "SDG" way!

My adventure concluded with the discovery of an original manuscript of Handel's "Messiah", written in 1741, and considered by many to be the greatest piece of music ever composed. He wrote the 260 page masterpiece in just 24 days, barely taking time to eator sleep. Handel later recalled his rapturous joy, saying, "I did think I saw heaven before me and the great God Himself!"

And standing there in the British Library, I felt a little bit of the same thing. I smiled and thought, "Beats Gloucester!"

My morning disappointment had birthed a day of delight, and on the short jaunt back to King's Cross Station, I caught myself whistling, "Halelujah! Halelujah!"