If you are ever traveling through Stroudsburg, PA, you might want to steer clear of the Pocono Plaza Inn. According to tripadvisor.com (a trusted consumer-based website that ranks hotels, airlines, restaurants, etc.), this hotel is in the top 10 worst hotels in the country.
Some of the reviews for this hotel include:
“There was a family in the room next to me. I heard them getting a shower. Shortly after the shower turned on I heard a gurgling sound in my room. Went into the bathroom and MY tub filled up with about 6 inches of water. There was black dirt in the bottom of the tub.”
“Please stay away from this hotel, it has BED BUGS!!! I was happy until the next morning when my husband had bites all over his chest, belly, and arms.”
“Once we found our room, the MOMENT we opened the door, the pungent and horrid smell of dirty carpets and body odor smacked us right in the face. Throw up was still on the toilet seat from a previous hotel-goer; hair on the towels, and filthy damp smells coming from the window and carpets. The ceiling tiles, wall, and carpets were all stained and the room was absolutely abysmal.”
“I’m not going to get into details, but the only reason you should stay here is if there are absolutely no options left.”
You’ve been warned. At this point, if you decide to stay in this hotel, it will be no one’s fault but your own.
We are blessed to live in an age when we can be incredibly informed BEFORE we go on a trip. Most of us read reviews of hotels, restaurants, and vacation destinations, and we typically know what we’re getting into before we actually get into it.
What about eternity? As I understand it, eternity is going to last a LONG time. In fact, the word translated “eternity” in the New Testament actually means, “without end, never to cease, everlasting” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). In other words, it is the “hotel stay that never ends.” Considering the length of our “stay” in the afterlife, wouldn’t it be nice to have some “customer reviews” of our choices, so that we can avoid an unpleasant experience?
As a matter of fact, we actually have one. And it is firsthand.
In Luke 16, Jesus pulls back the curtain and gives us a look at what happens after death. We are told that a certain rich man (who was unwilling to help a certain poor man named Lazarus during his time on earth) ended up “in Hades, being in torment” (vs. 23). This rich man gives a revealing – and scathing – “review” of his experience in this awful place in verse 24:
“And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame’.”
This doesn’t sound good, does it? Heat, thirst, and anguish are typically not the hallmarks of a pleasant experience (Disney World doesn’t count, because Mickey is there).
After finding out that there will BE no relief for his suffering, and that he is stuck in this horrible situation, his review continues in verse 27-28:
“And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him [Lazarus] to my father’s house – for I have five brothers – so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.”
Did you hear that? If he can’t escape this situation, he at least wants to warn others to do whatever it takes to avoid this experience.
Are we listening to this review?
Do we truly understand that if we don’t give our lives to God in obedient faith; that if we don’t live our lives in love towards those who are in need; that if we neglect to carry out the will of our heavenly Father; that we will JOIN this man in this horrible place some day?
We’ve been warned. If we end up in this place, it will be no one’s fault but our own.
In contrast, the “review” of Paradise (the other side of Hades) is quite interesting. In 2 Corinthians 12:1-5, Paul talks about a man who was “caught up to the third heaven…into paradise,” and that this man “heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.”
This seems to line up with Paul’s words in I Corinthians 2:9 when he says, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him.”
In other words, the “reviews” of the “good side” of Hades are currently “unavailable.” Why are they unavailable? Maybe it is because we can’t comprehend the upcoming reality of our eternal reward. Maybe it is because our minds are too small to fathom how wonderful it will be. And maybe, just maybe, God wants to surprise us:)
So, read the “reviews” again and give some thought to where YOU will spend eternity. By the way, one way or the other, you and I have already started planning for this trip. Make sure you are headed in the right direction!