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Going Home


An elderly lady was travelling back to her hometown in Swatow by bus. As she was getting on, she made it a point to tell the driver her destination and one point of interest that she did not want to miss.

"Mr. Driver," with her voice raised loud enough for herself to hear, she explained to the young man, "please be sure to tell me when you pass by that little school house next to the Wongs Village. You know, the one by the big oak tree after the one-lane bridge? You see, I used to go to school there back before the war. In those days, ..." The driver, more patient than the others, nodded with a smile and waved her on.

So, with her umbrella under one arm, clutching a small suitcase of clothes in that hand - with a plastic-bagful of the most tasty sesame cookies she could find tied to the suitcase handle, armed with a well-worn handbag and a small bamboo cage stuffed with two chickens in the other hand, she shuffled down the aisle of the bus.

Picking a window seat close to the rear, she set down her belongings; the chickens under the seat, the umbrella leaning next to the window, the suitcase on the rack above - "Thank you! I couldn't quite put it up there. Oh, could you untie that bag of cookies for me... Thank you. Would you like to have one? They really are clean!" Clutching to her handbag, she sat down and breathed a sigh of relief that she was finally on her way.

After the bus started moving for a few minutes, she realized to her discomfort that the sun was beating on her. She got her rattan fan out and switched every few minutes between using it to move some air and shading her face. The sun was just too bright, she decided, and she just had to move to another seat. So she gathered her cookies, her handbag, her two chickens, her umbrella, and her suitcase, and moved to the other side of the bus.

Having put the umbrella where it belongs, the chickens where they belong, the suitcase - "Well, I'll just put it on the floor", and the handbag and cookies on her lap, she could enjoy the wind from the open window.

Before long, the wind was getting a bit too strong. She pulled on the window latch with all her might but it just wouldn't budge.

"It is broken," a passenger told her.

"Oh! Fiddlesticks!" She looked around again for a solution. By now, the bus was quite full. But she found the perfect seat right in front of hers; no wind, no sun, yet not too stuffy.

"Little girl," leaning forward, in her nicest tone with a smile, she cooed, "The wind is blowing on me and the window won't close. Would you help an old lady out and trade seats with me?" The little girl was glad to do a good deed.

So once more, hugging her handbag, her umbrella, her suitcase, her bag of cookies - from which she rewarded the girl with a piece, and her chickens, the elderly lady climbed over the passengers, put all the things in the right places, closed the window some more until just a small crack was left, sat down, and took a deep breath to recover from all the activities. She finally settled in the new and improved seating arrangement that would last the rest of her trip.

"Swatow Terminus! Everybody off!" Announced the bus driver.

"But," the lady was devestated, "I wanted to see the little school house!"

"Sorry," the driver shrugged, "I called you but you were too busy."

"But, I wanted to see the little school house!"

"Sorry, m'aam, you are home!"

"Can you just loop back and let me see it?"

"Sorry, you know I can't do that. Well, you are home!"


A few months ago, I had shared with some of you in the worship service my "mid-life evaluation" in the past few years. God had reminded me that life was short. I must not wait to start living life - for example, waiting for marriage. I should live today as God would want me to live!

Life is short, too short to wait for a boat to come in while doing nothing. In fact having read a letter from my sister describing her and her husband's typical day with their two young kids, I have a fresh understanding of the apostle Paul's saying that a single man is freer from concern and can concentrate more on ministry.

And I am also learning that disappointments and even pain will always be a fact of life. The point is not to avoid them, but to experience them and to grow through them.

Yes, life is short. I pray that one day when I arrive at the terminus of life, at home with the Lord, looking back I will not see just good intentions but no application. I'd rather hear "Welcome home" than "Sorry, you're home"!

(June 1995)

(Note: The bus story I told above is not original.
I heard one similar to it years ago.)

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