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Hungary: Mineral Baths

[Written Sunday June 3]

Last night I went to Franklin Graham’s Festival of Hope at the Budapest Sports Arena.  It was a classic evangelistic event.  There was great musical worship, prayer, and a proclamation of The Good News.  Thousands upon thousands came forward at the end to receive Christ Jesus as their personal Savior.  As a result thousands upon thousands will be experiencing perfect eternal life with their Creator:  Not just life without end, but life without sorrow, pain, suffering, discord, sickness, and death.  The life that we all seek but can’t find here on earth, because it simply doesn’t exist here on earth.  We must lose our lives to find it, Jesus teaches.  (John 12:25)

This morning I had the opportunity to experience one of Budapest’s many delightful treasures.  People come from all over Europe and from around the world for this experience.

I had been staying at the Margaret Island Grand Danubius Hotel.  It’s a classic old structure typical of Budapest’s glory almost 200 years ago, beautifully furnished in period style and offering exquisite service.  One of the benefits of staying here is that one can enjoy the most renowned thermal baths in the city as part of the room’s amenities.[1]

Budapest is actually located on a pool of hot water mineral springs.  The Romans built baths here to enjoy the famous regenerative powers of these hot mineral springs.  But time took its toll and all that remains of those baths are ruins.  As a child I used to love exploring the ruins of these Roman baths in Aquincum and imagine what it must have been like in the days of the Caesars.

Then the Turks came in the 1500s.  They built new baths for similar reasons.  The famous Turkish Baths of Budapest are still in use.  Unfortunately time did not allow me to experience them on this trip.

Now of course modern Hungarians offer many other hot baths claiming to provide the same regenerative and healing powers, but the ones on Margaret Island are special.  The waters and springs of Margaret Island are reputed to be the best of the best in the entire world, so I had to at least try them while I stayed there.

People from all over come here for relaxation and healing.  They come seeking relief from a spiritual illness manifested in bodily symptoms:  Aches, pains, fatigue, despondency, and the myriad other ailments we all experience every day of our lives on this earth.

Many come and spend a great deal of money on spa treatments to try and make themselves look and feel younger or healthier once more, to vainly try and recapture a past that is forever past.  They come looking for the same things last night’s crowd was seeking at Franklin Graham’s Festival of Hope, but these people – the ones at the spa – are looking in the wrong place.

Make no mistake.  The hot baths and springs are wonderful and everyone should experience them.  The water is full of minerals that invade and cleanse your pores.  The temperature is perfect.  The little mineral bubbles tickle.  There are small benches around the edge inside the pool, but it’s impossible to sit on them.  Your body just wants to float up and away.  You physically have to force your body to stay immersed.

Close your eyes and you are transported into a timeless space of weightlessness, peace, and quiet.  I imagined myself an astronaut, just floating in space and time from nowhere to nowhere.  But sooner or later I had to open my eyes, reenter reality, and leave.

When I left, I felt rejuvenated and relaxed.  But in due course everything in this world must end.  Ultimately the grind of reality in this world overcomes the glow of the hot mineral baths and those same old aches, pains, fatigue, and despondency return.  What can one do?

Why seek the living among the dead and dying?  Why seek eternity in the temporary world of today?  Why look for help from the mirror where all one can see is one’s dying and dead person?  Seek eternity from the one who lives in eternity:  Christ Jesus.  Seek eternity from the one who hands it out freely to all who have faith:  Christ Jesus.  Seek and you will certainly find – if you know what you’re seeking and where to look.  That was the core message of Franklin Graham’s Festival of Hope.  There is hope of a better future, there is hope of eternal bliss, there is hope of salvation through Christ Jesus, but through Him alone.  Trust not in earthly things like mineral baths, lest they all pass away and leave you empty.

We all live by faith.  Our very being is rooted in faith in something, and that faith is what drives our thoughts, words, and actions.  A key difference between one person and another is who or what is the object of that person’s faith.

  • Ponce de Leon had faith that he could find the fountain of youth and become forever wealthy.  He wasted his entire life vainly searching for it; finally he fruitlessly gave his life for his faith.
  • Abraham had faith that there was a real, eternal, living God who created him.  He spent his life following his faith and was rewarded with blessings beyond measure:  God created peoples and nations throughout the world from the fruit of Abraham’s faith.

Which are you?  Ponce de Leon or Abraham?  Is your faith in the dreams and mirages of this world or in the truth and fact of Christ Jesus?

What a contrast!  Franklin Graham’s Festival of Hope vs. Margaret Island’s venerated mineral springs.  Which will it be?  The eternal or the temporal?  Just give me Jesus, and all else will be thrown in for good measure.

Nevertheless I did enjoy the mineral baths greatly and do recommend them to all.

[1] Unfortunately I can’t provide pictures because I didn’t want to chance ruining the camera.


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