Friday, March 10, 2006

Far From Home

As mentioned in my last post, I recently had the displeasure and enlightenment of being in the Las Vegas area for 3 days and 3 nights. I was filled with apprehension before the trip, which I attributed to my loathing of just about any experience that is to include flying in a jet. But that was not the case. The flight out was tolerable. I got to see the Grand Canyon again, albeit from 38,000 ft. From where I sat, it looked like God had reached down and scratched his fingernail through the dirt a few times...creating just what he does. Perfection. We landed a short time later.

This was not my 1st visit, as my industry holds a nationwide market and convention there annually, which I was forced to attend for a number of years, due to my job. So the city and it's character, or lack thereof, was nothing new to me. I've even willingly taken a nighttime walk down the infamous strip, alone a few times in the past, just to get some air and enjoy getting out of the hotel for a bit. But this time, something was different.

Upon my arrival, I was struck mentally by several things. I was in a city of approximately 2 million people (according to my cab driver) that is jokingly referred to by many people as "sin city" or "lost wages." The current promotional ad campaign for Las Vegas is..."what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas", promoting lying, deceit and a myriad of other sin. Gambling is literally in your face from the time you walk off the plane at the airport until you get inside the elevator to go to the solitude of your room (and it does not stop there if you count the magazines and ads waiting for you just inside the door) which is for many visitors, perched atop a huge ground floor casino. Prostitution is legal....just down the road. There is much more to assault the senses and the soul, including a barrage of "shows" to see, many of which are of a sinful nature, in one form or another. As I rode in a cab or a shuttle from the hotel to our manufacturing facility or to the airport, I kept looking for a church there...anywhere. But I did not notice one. Maybe they are tucked in closer to the residential areas. I pray that they are.

I felt like I was in a warzone or an area that had been couquered and re-occupied by an enemy. Sadness, loneliness, grief, despair and anger were just a few of my emotions, after only 3 hours in the city. It would be easy to weep over it all. As the days passed, I became very aware of the desensitizing that takes place when one is exposed to all of this on a daily basis. Even so, I do not recall ever being so ready to leave a place as I was on Wednesday afternoon. As the airplane taxied down the runway, it dawned on me that I had been in a place where the many of the people seemed to have no fear of God. I wondered if they'd ever known Him. Had they and then turned away? I felt fear for the people and wondered if this was remotely like what Jonah experienced in Ninevah.

Tonight, as I sit in my chair, upstairs in the relative comfort of my bedroom, my precious family is only a staircase away. And I am so thankful for that. God brought me back home. I don't profess to know the sum of the parts, only some of the parts and I trust that He has a purpose for me here.

On the return flight, we had a bit of turbulence at about the halfway point. The sun was almost down to the west, just behind us and there was a large storm brewing just below the plane in New Mexico. I closed my eyes during the "air-bumps" and reminded myself that God is sovereign. Whether I'm in a metal tube at 35,000 ft., going 550 mph through a storm or in a hotel in a modern day Sodom and Gommorah or sitting in my bedroom in the Natural State...God is God. Las Vegas and the people in it belong to Him. They have their plans, but He has His. He is the One God. He is in authority. He is sovereign. And I will rest on that.

-The Arkanblogger

4 comments:

Daren said...

Las Vegas has more churches per capita than most major cities. I don't imagine there will ever be one that can afford real estate prices for anything on or near the strip, but most tourists don't bother trying to find a church while they're on vacation anyway. Personaly, I enjoy visiting out of town churches, but I probably wont try to find one in Las Vegas.

Arkanblogger Family said...

Daren-If that is in fact true, then I have a few quick thoughts before I'm off to "church" this morning:

1. Why would the "tourists" participate in the "offerings" there and then go to church on Sunday, unless you wanted to make the case that the "goings on" are not sinful in nature.

2. What does that say about the effectiveness of the modern day corporate church?

3. Maybe that helps our Calvinist friends with their cause, to say that God is not "drawing out" many of those people there, no matter how many churches they build.

4. Now, do you mean to tell me that Focus on the Family or Family Life or Billy Graham, Pat Robertson and Co. couldn't rally the troops and put a church on the strip?

Have fun on your helicopter ride over Hoover Dam. ;-)

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