The where and the which one I will keep to myself; I am not in the habit of publicly bashing hotels or other businesses. And since most everyone is short-staffed these days, I try to be even more patient and understanding than normal. That said, though, when Dana and I walked into the room at 11:45 p.m., hoping for nothing more than a good night's sleep, my obsessive-compulsive disorder and Mr. Fix It genes immediately spiked to red-alert status, and I knew I would be up for a while.
Every single picture in the room and bathroom was crooked. Not slightly crooked, mind you. Think: "As crooked as a congresswoman whose husband always invests in just the right stock before Congress does something to make it skyrocket." One picture was even hung over half of a power outlet, rendering both sockets unusable. Compounding that grotesque problem, though, was the fact that they have also apparently been glued to the wall that way and cannot be straightened. And the bathroom mirror was equally crooked and equally attached.
The hair dryer had been ripped out of the wall, housing and all, and was nowhere to be found. The sprinkler housing was missing, and there was a random wire dangling from the sprinkler head. The handle for the shut-off valve to the toilet had been ripped off, thus ensuring that if the toilet started leaking, not much could be done about it. The handle of the shower simply made loop-de-loops and had to be positioned flawlessly in order to avoid suddenly being scalded or frozen.
Mind you, this was not a "budget motel." We ceased to frequent those many years ago; 30 extra dollars is well worth a peaceful, clean night's sleep, as far as I am concerned.
In fairness, it was not the worst hotel I have ever been in. That dubious distinction goes to what the men of our church still call "Hotel Hell." We were on the way to our annual men's retreat at the beach about five years ago, and our 28-passenger bus (since retired in favor of a nice new transit van) decided to break down at 2 in the morning in the middle of "Deliverance" country. Our GPS, which apparently had been programmed by Satan, took us down roads that even the highway patrol had trouble finding when we finally called them. The only vehicles that passed by the entire night were transports from a correctional facility.
AAA could not find us, which is why, in desperation, we finally called the highway patrol. We had an elderly man we feared was getting hypothermia, and we needed to get him to warmth. When they finally arrived, they managed to get in touch with a towing place in "town," which came out with a lowboy to haul our vehicle to the shop. In the meantime, one of our men had gotten hold of the only hotel in town that answered the phone and reserved several rooms for us.
When the police heard where we had secured rooms, one turned to the other and said, "Well, it's not too long till morning; they'll probably be OK."
That should have been our clue as to what we were in for. The tow truck stopped in the hotel parking lot; we piled out of the bus and quickly checked into our pens (I cannot rightfully call them rooms).
One door had about a hundred stab wounds all the way through it. I can only imagine what was going through the foggy mind of the assailant as he worked so hard to kill that inanimate thing. Not a single room was even remotely clean. Most had mice, mice who were aggressive enough to fight us for the space. Funniest of all, one of the rooms had a stack of lumber in the middle of the floor!
We took turns sleeping and keeping watch. When we finally got to our destination, it seemed like paradise, and when we got home a few days later, it seemed like heaven. And that comparison is interesting when you consider that, as wonderful as home is here, even it will seem like the sleaziest of hotels when the saved finally step foot in heaven.
We know what Scripture specifically tells us in places like John 14:1-3 and also Revelation chapters 21 and 22, which describes just one city from heaven, the New Jerusalem. We know about the street of gold, as clear as crystal. We know about the river of life, the tree of life, the gates of pearl, the throne of God surrounded by an emerald green rainbow, the sea of glass, the 12 foundations of precious stones, the mansions we get to live in and so much more. But from the fact that it is perfect and peaceful and ruled by God himself, may I tell you what else we can know for certain? Here goes, in poetical cadence:
No glasses, no walkers, no gossip, no lies, no cancer, no sickness and no one who dies. No elections or riots or fuming or fights, and no need to lock all our doors up at night. No laundry or garbage or grass we must mow, and no sad goodbyes, for none have to go. No graveyards, no doctors, no rest homes or wards, no need for peace treaties, no broken accords. No graying of hair and no stooping of backs, no anxiety, depression or panic attacks. No crime or division or hatred of races, no meanness of word and no harsh angry faces. No fatherless children, no tents on the street, no needles, no drunkards, no wives getting beat.
Yes, all that is good will be there in that place, but none that is bad will be given a space. For Christ our Redeemer that place is preparing, and none is as gracious, as kind and as caring. So if days seem long, and you oft seem to find that troubles and trials and doubts cloud your mind, remember that God has already been good; he has carried you thus far as only he could. And one day quite soon, it will only get sweeter, when you step on shore and are met by a greeter, who says, "Welcome home, we are so glad you came! Now, let's go see the King; he's been calling your name."
Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at wordofhismouth.com. Email him at email@example.com.