May 17, 2013 — Antwerp, Belgium.
The night before, I had made a drive from Denmark down to Belgium. We arrived after dark and I was exhausted. So I crashed and set my alarm so I could see the one major attraction of the city — The Our Lady Cathedral. This impressive building started construction in the 14th century and stands as the tallest cathedral in the Low Countries of Europe. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait. But I only had about an hour to find the cathedral because I had a client meeting scheduled in the morning. I didn’t have a good map, but I had a general idea of where I needed to go. After all, how hard could it be to find a massive cathedral?
Upon leaving my hotel, I headed into the old city. The odd confluence of old buildings (some with scarring from World War II still visible) and new high-end fashion stores and American businesses seemed jarring. But where was the cathedral? It was supposed to be around here somewhere; however, the heights of the buildings made it difficult to see the skyline, and the non-linear streets made it impossible for me to keep my bearings.
I was about to abandon my search due to the time when a glance down a side street made my morning. I saw the tower of a cathedral! The street was rather small and only a few passersby gave it any momentary thought. I stood for a moment and captured a few pictures. The discovery complete, I knew that I’d have to make good time on the return to the hotel. As I rounded the corner, I felt that my trip had been successful.
Out on the main road and heading back to my hotel with barely enough time to shower and leave for my meeting, I thought to glance behind me. And just 4 blocks behind me, a towering spire broke above the skyline. This building seemed to be 4 times bigger than the little church I’d just photographed. And to think that I almost missed seeing this awe-inspiring architectural wonder because I got distracted by a little structure along the way. As an American, my expectations as to what I would find made me willing and able to accept the lesser substitute for the impressive monument. This reminds me of the many times in my life where I’ve taken a good road, but have missed the best course of action. Philippians 1:9-10 also points to this concept:
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ”
Don’t miss the wonders that God has for you because you’ve become distracted by the commonplace.