My trip back from Ghana this past Christmas was a nightmare – but one that turned out to be an important lesson.
Don’t ask me why I thought two layovers was a smart thing to do, but I guess it was because as someone who enjoys traveling, the idea of stopping in a new country gives me butterflies.
Needless to say that butterflies were the last thing in my stomach this time around.
After an 8-hour flight to Copenhagen followed by a 12-hour layover – without a jacket, an outlet, or anywhere to sleep – and a delayed flight to NYC, I was exhausted. It was a Sunday and I had work the next morning (another mistake on my part lol), so on arrival at JFK, I rushed through customs trying to make my connection to Baltimore, after which I would have to take an hour-long and $40 uber ride home.
(Clearly I need to hire a travel agent lol.)
So here I am, frantically grabbing my luggage from the conveyor belt so I can get it transferred to this local flight to DC, only to reach the drop off and find out that my flight has been CANCELLED. Yes, Cancelled. Along with like 5 others.
NOW I have to stand waiting in line for almost two hours trying to figure out my fate, trudging along three pieces of plantain chip-filled luggage.
Contrary to what you might think, gallon bags of plantain chips weigh a lot.
At this point I just want you to know that this is the condensed version of that 48-hour experience. I don’t have to tell you that during this time there was a lot of frustration and worry and stress that tried to creep up in my spirit. I had to bite my tongue and invoke the Holy Spirit quite a bit over these two days. By this time in the story, I am exhausted, irritated and looking like I have been hit by a truck. All I want to do at this point is get to my bed and have a long rest before I have to go to work tomorrow. I just want to be in my own home for once in the last two and a half weeks. I am this close to throwing a bag of chips at someone’s head. I make the smart choice however to hold my tongue. Because I have come to understand that with God the most difficult situations are the most teachable ones, so instead of defaulting to complaining about current circumstances, I occupy my mind instead with being reflective and figuring out ‘the point’ to whatever I’m going through. It was tough, but I kept my cool.
But here’s where the story gets interesting:
I finally reach the front desk after being tossed from one line to the other, and the representative tells me that the earliest they can get me into Baltimore is the next evening. This will not work for me. At this point I’m mentally planning the strategy for lugging my bags to Union train so I can hop on a bus or train – just anything to get me to my own bed and work on time the next morning.
“I can get you into DCA by 6 am tomorrow morning though.” She says. My ears perk up. This airport is literally minutes from my apartment – no need to trek an hour from Baltimore or pay $40 for it. And I could make it to work on time!
“Let me get you a hotel voucher.” She continued. My heart did a jig. I had seen her deny lodging requests for about 5 people before me, so I expected nothing of the sort. An on-time flight AND a place to lay my head for the night? How could people possibly think there’s no God?
I started to ask where I could take public transport to the hotel when she spoke up again:
“And here are two taxi vouchers – one to the hotel and one to transfer to La Guardia where your flight will depart from.”
I nearly DANCED a jig. While all the layovers and delays and cancellations had been stressful, at the end of the day they all dulled in comparison to the knowledge that I would reach my destination exactly when I needed to, well-rested and prepared to do what I had to do.
When I got to my hotel and really began to meditate over what had happened, and more importantly, WHY, God really began to impress on my spirit the difference between need and want, and how it really plays into Kingdom values.
I wanted to not be delayed or experience cancellations. I wanted everything to go according to schedule – to MY schedule. I wanted to be home. I wanted my own bed.
What I needed was to get home on time and be well-rested enough to go to work. I needed a bed to sleep in – not necessarily mine. I needed a flight home – and I ended up with one even better than the one I had before.
I may not have gotten everything I wanted, and I might have experienced quite a few delays, but I got exactly what I needed, and even more importantly, exactly when I needed it.
It’s an understanding that I (try) to carry with me daily. We all have our lists or wants and our plans, and are the first to throw them all out the window and curse at heaven when they go astray, but do you trust that while things may not always go your way, that God will give you exactly what you need when you need it? Do you trust Him enough to tell Him what you need and allow Him to figure out how He’s going to deliver it to you? Instead of being micro-managers of our own lives, will we allow the One who sees the big picture to orchestrate the right cues and segues and curtains to ensure that we get what we need without too much regard for what form it comes in?
Instead of stressing and obsessing over not getting what you want – that promotion at your job, that relationship, that opportunity, those finances – can we simply tell God what exactly we need? And in the process remember that delays are never denials. Delays are not ‘no’s. Delays do not mean you forfeit the Promise. Endings are only new beginnings. Delays and cancellations only mean God is working at rerouting things so that He can get you exactly what you need.