It was our first trip to Europe. We had toured Italy for eight days and were taking a bullet train to Basel, Switzerland to begin a river cruise. Rhonda won the cruise, but I guess you knew she was lucky because she got me right? (I sense your groans) We were in a foreign land, not yet experienced in leading tours let alone traveling through Europe. Italy was fantastic, but I was a bit shocked when our lunch on the train, a small, shared lettuce salad, a shared cup of soup, and a shared bottle of water was $32. Considering my Dutch heritage, it's still amazing to me I survived the cardiac arrest. At the depot, we grabbed a taxi for the short ride to the pier and our riverboat. At the dock, I reached into my wallet to hand the driver the appropriate number of Euro's. To my surprise he did not want them. Switzerland you see, is not on the Euro, but has Franks. With a waiting boat, and a running meter, I was able to convince the driver to take the Euros, but let's just say I was not up to speed on the exchange rate. To put it mildly, the cab fare made that heart attack on the train look like mild angina. With Swiss Francs I may have been able to take a helicopter from the train to the boat cheaper. I learned two things from that little episode. Always have the right currency, and know what the exchange rate is. For the second, I recommend an app on your smart phone called XE. I've used it all over the world to instantly know exactly what I'm spending in foreign currency. It also reminds me of another time in my life where I was very slow to understand the correct currency and the exchange rate. I grew up in a great Christian family and attended a wonderful church. Somehow though, it seemed like either I was being taught the wrong lesson, or more likely, I was just a very slow learner. It seemed like the Christian life was all about living a good life, and following all the right rules, those in the Bible and even quite a few that seemed to be written between the lines. I'm sure I was told, but I'm pretty sure I didn't understand until I was about 45 years old that it was about a relationship, not rules. I finally figured out that Jesus came to get away from all the legalistic rules of the Pharisees and Sadducees. I finally figured out no matter how many rules I followed, or how good a life I lived it wouldn't be enough. You see, I had the wrong currency. The only currency that would pay this bill was Jesus blood. It was very costly for God to sacrifice his only son. As a father of three sons I can't even imagine. The good news is, you can't work hard enough, follow enough rules, give enough money, or do enough ministry to pay this bill yourself. It's a free gift. The word free is music to this Dutchman's ears. Make sure you have the right currency when you travel, but make sure you have the right currency for that trip to eternity too.
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