My family laughs at me whenever I return from a trip. I always have an airport adventure. My most recent experience at O’Hare airport topped the list.
After a week in Arizona presenting my teaching ministry seminar at Grace Chapel in Benson and visiting my family, it’s good to be home. Whenever I travel by myself, someone invariably asks me if I like to fly. I always respond, “Oh yes, I love to fly.”
I’m not crazy, naive or indulging in sarcasm. There’s something so alluring about watching people travel to a destination. My overactive imaginator wonders where people have come from and where they are going. Why are they traveling and who is waiting for them at the other end? I also love experiencing the variety of people. Each person has a unique story as to why they are in that airport.
Even though my limited vision causes additional challenges to an already unpredictable situation, I love the adventure. Problems and hiccoughs in the flight schedules only provide adventures. An aunt taught me on a trip back from Europe to relax and go with the flow, recognizing that the airline’s job is to get me where I need to go – eventually.
Transferring planes in Chicago this past week tested my resolve to make every flight an adventure. When I arrived at my gate, the ticket agent announced they needed two passengers to volunteer to be “bumped.” I will need to go back to Arizona in a few weeks for my mother’s surgery so a $500 voucher sounded like one of God’s extra touches. I called my husband who was just starting out on the hour trip to pick me up; yes, that was ok with him. The ticket agent took my boarding pass and told me to come back to the desk after everyone board to see if they had a seat for me. It would be fifteen more minutes.
So I waited, in the meantime, making gaga faces at the cute two-year-old next to me who was escorting her papa home from California. We waited. And waited. A crew member had not arrived, the ticket agent informed us. Then they needed to find a new flight attendant. After the replacement boarded the plane to do the final safety check, she reappeared and told the ticket agent there was a maintenance problem. More waiting. More gaga faces.
Next we were told there would be a plane swap.
Then we heard the announcement to move to a different gate. By then, the ever patient papa asked me to watch his bags so he could take the two year old Miss America to the bathroom. I left his bags in charge of another motherly type and headed for my gate. As the new batch of passenger spilled into the concourse walkway, we were informed that the bathroom on our new plane was out of order so we needed to take care of bathroom needs before we boarded.
Finally, the other volunteer and I stood before the gate desk. I told one passenger waiting for a boarding pass I hoped I could get that voucher because I needed to get back to Arizona for my mother’s surgery. “It’s a blessing from God,” I told her, feeling self-satisfied that I had witnessed for the Lord.
It was not to be. “We need only one volunteer,” the ticket agent told the two of us. “Which one is staying?” We both raised our hands and echoed, “I can stay.”
“I don’t have to go to work tomorrow.” My competitor gave me a significant look. I didn’t have the heart to play the “My mother is having surgery in two weeks and this would really be a help” card. I do have the money for the trip. Besides, after all the problems two planes have had, I’m not feeling so comfortable about the safety of the airplanes. If the plane crashes and I die, I thought, I know where I’m going and I have no clue about this man’s destiny.
As soon as I settled on the plane, I whisked my cell phone from my pocket to tell my husband I was on my way. At this point, if all went well, my plane would arrive before he could get to the airport. But after the plane took ten more minutes to dump excess fuel, turn down the temperature in the cabin, and make us wait twenty five minutes for our luggage, Jack, our Welsh Corgi and I connected at just the right moment.
I was so certain God was providing a special blessing in that airline voucher. When I had to board my scheduled plane after all, I could have easily thought, “God where were you?”
My adventure reminds me of the S curve smaller airplanes make as they enter their final approach. When God calls us to head in one direction, sometimes His will takes a sharp left around a corner, then turns again so we are aligned with His final purpose. While we can’t see our ultimate destination, He knows the plans He has for us, plans that are for our best, even if we don’t see or understand what He has in mind (Jeremiah 29:11). If I had not sent Jack home, he and the dog would have waited in single digit weather for over an hour. My willingness to go for that voucher allowed Jack and me to connect at just the right moment so he didn’t have to wait for me.
My adventure also assured me that even when life hands me a suitcase full of difficulties, God is still taking care of me. As He was present with me in the airport so He will be there for me, my mother and the rest of my family over the next few adventurous weeks.
Besides, I got to spend forty five minutes in a strange airport interacting with a cute two-year-old and being a supportive distraction for a patient but tired dad. Ministry doesn’t get much better than that.
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