Missing a flight is never a good thing in my book, I consider it a bad thing always. So you can only imagine my frustration as I waited long in line, listening to four chatty travelers exchanging life stories with the baggage check person, while the rest of us listened, a captive audience waiting our turn to check our bags. But my irritation quickly turned to panic when I heard the words come down the line; “no more bags checked, it’s within forty-five minutes of departure time.” Questions raced through my mind. Where had this rule come from? (of course I rarely fly and almost never have luggage to check) so I would not necessarily know about this obscure rule. But I was not alone. Those ahead of me and behind me in this long line to check bags, seemed also to be caught unaware and seemed also equally panicked. (which was strangely although only momentarily reassuring to me, knowing that I was not alone in my plight.)
The irony of the fact that I had waited long in that slow moving line only to be told it was now too late, was not lost on me. As those around me protested this obvious injustice, (they were headed for a myriad of different destinations than mine, but as all our flights left about the same time, we were all in the same boat (so to speak) that of wishing we were on a plane) I wondered, “what do I do now?”
This could not be happening, I told myself. I had printed out my boarding pass the day before, I was even TSA precheck! And I was headed out on a mission trip, so certainly God was on my side, right? So why would He let this happen? I had to get to Dallas, as that was the connection to Dubai which was the connection to Lusaka, which was where I needed to end up.
So I continued to question God in my mind as I used a kiosk to register for another flight to Dallas, the next available, which left at 8:05a.m., just a couple hours later than my original 6:10a.m. flight. I knew this would get me there in time because my friend, who was going on the same mission trip, was taking this flight. We had planned to meet up in Dallas, but maybe God wanted me to be on the same flight as my friend, I told myself. (like I needed to have a reason to explain the minor inconvenience of my current circumstances) But I did want a reason and it better be a good one. I wanted things to make sense, that is, to make sense to me.
So much for walking by faith and not by sight. So much for trusting God in all things. Often we wait months or years before we can look back and see how some “bad” thing that happened to us turned out to be God’s best thing for us; turned out to be God’s blessing or God’s protection of us. But we don’t recognize it as such at the time. And that was the case with me this early morning at the airport.
But unlike most of my past experiences, where I had to wait years to get the revelation that hindsight always provides in seeing God at work on my behalf in all the “bad” things that I have experienced; today I would see how this bad thing was clearly the best thing in only a matter of minutes.
So I arrived at my new departure gate at 6 a.m. thinking to myself, “see, I could have made the 6:10 flight.” It was fairly empty as I took a seat to wait on my new plane. Then it began filling up quickly, surprising since the flight wasn’t for two hours yet. I began listening to the conversations around me and guess what I learned? The 6:10 flight (whose gate was right next to this one) had just deboarded. (unboarded?) well, you get the idea. That plane, my original plane, had not taken off as scheduled. Why? Two flat tires on the landing gear and no spare! They were waiting for replacement tires. Although apparently, they were telling the passengers that it would still take off before the 8:05 flight.
Well let me tell you, when we took off at 8:05, my original plane was still sitting on the ground with no signs of being ready to go anywhere anytime soon. If I had been able to get on that flight as planned, I would still be sitting in Indy! and even if I could have gotten on another flight to Dallas, my luggage, full of ministry supplies for the trip, would still be on that grounded plane.
I had wanted to be on that plane. I thought I needed to be on that plane. But God knew what I couldn’t know; God knew that plane wasn’t going anywhere. God did have my back. He made sure I got to Dallas by making sure I was denied access to my desired, scheduled flight; the one I was so determined to get on, the one I thought would take me where I needed to be, where I wanted to go. (found out much later, that flight never did take off)
But God in His mercy took care of me by denying me what I thought I needed and giving me what I did need instead in that moment. What a wonderful way for this mission trip to began, with God reminding me of His constant watchcare over me. This time, I didn’t have to wait long to realize the reason for the “bad” thing that happened to me in being denied access to my chosen flight. God’s protection and provision were almost immediately apparent.
But more often, I just have to trust that any “bad” things that I experience, God will use to bring about what He knows is “best” for me. Because my Heavenly Father always has my best interests at heart. This airport experience just reminded me once again that I can trust Him. Many things I will never know the “why” this side of heaven. But I can trust that with my Heavenly Father what I think are the “bad” things will ultimately turn out to be the “best” things. I just have to have faith – and I do! (even if it is just a mustard seed)
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
“The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)
“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” (Pr. 16:9)
sincerely, Grace Day