In July 2020 officials from Kruger National Park in South Africa announced the opening of a new luxury hotel. They call it Kruger Shalati and it is probably the only of its kind anywhere. This luxury hotel consists of twenty-four train cars that have been parked atop a 100-year-old railroad bridge which spans the Sabi River. Each train car has been converted into a palatial hotel room with glass walls to give a floor-to-ceiling view of the wildlife below.
Crossed, Not Settled
This hotel commemorates the time Kruger National Park was first established in the early 1920s. In fact, it was nearly 100 years ago that this same train brought to the park its earliest visitors. In those days the train would stop on this very bridge and park for the night. It became the favorite stop on the line’s nine-day journey through South Africa.
The fee for a night at Kruger Shalati begins at $540. This price includes drinks, meals, and two daily wildlife tours through the park. Kruger National Park constitutes the largest game reserve on the entire continent. The hotel is famous for its abundance of all the large animals associated with Africa. These include elephants, giraffe, lions, leopards, cheetahs, zebras, impala, rhinos, hippos, and crocodiles.
There is, however, something quite unnerving about permanently parking a luxury hotel atop a 100-year-old railroad bridge. Train bridges are meant to be crossed, not settled. They are meant to be navigated as quickly as safety allows, and there is a good reason for this. Trains are heavy, and train bridges are not made to bear their weight incessantly, but only for a short duration at each crossing.
When a train parks on a bridge, the bridge becomes top-heavy, and in a high wind is prone to instability. Plus, train bridges that cross rivers are susceptible to scouring and ramming debris at their base during floods. They can also be damaged by moving barges or boats that strike their pylons. Wooden bridges that cross deep ravines are vulnerable to fires. Some of the deadliest railroad disasters involved train bridge failures. Just take a look at the collage of train bridge failures that cost the lives of hundreds of passengers. Therefore, crossing a train bridge can be a stressful event for an engineer.
Remember the verse from the old Gospel song, “Life’s Railway to Heaven”? “You must roll upgrades of trials, you must cross the bridge of strife.”
Like this, a bridge is no place to stop and stay a while. Yet this train has taken up permanent residence on a nearly 100-year-old bridge above a river swarming with crocodiles and hippopotamuses.
It’s like how many Christian believers seek to build all their hopes and dreams in this world – a world that is passing away and is full of dangers, uncertainties, and strife. Jesus told us, “Do not lay up your treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal. But lay up your treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). God’s word calls us to set our affections on things above where Jesus reigns at the Father’s right hand (Colossians 3:1-2).
This life is for passage, not homesteading. It’s purpose is to prepare us for a far better and eternal home. Ever since our first parents sinned and brought death and misery into this world, God has used its dangers and afflictions to humble our pride. These actions bring us to Himself, and prepare us for heaven. This life is like Basic Training for heaven, and no one wants to stay in Basic Training forever? No. We must use this life for its intended purpose – to lay up treasure in heaven and to prepare for eternity with Christ.
Dear Father in heaven, please help me to live with eternity’s values in mind. Grant that I will use this life to build a place for myself in eternity. For this world is passing away with all its pleasures and only those who do Your will partake of the world to come. Amen.
(Information from: https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/south-africa-kruger-shalati-train-on-the-bridge/index.html; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kruger_National_Park)
The content of this article comes from “The Warrior’s Bible” (2014) and is copyrighted by Life Publishers International. Used with permission.