As I begin to share this story I’m sensing that my words will fail to paint the bigger picture. Because of my personality I tend to focus too much on detail, I have to make myself take a step back in order to see.
This story begins as gesture of loving service to a dear friend in Christ that turns into a lesson of personal humility. God, as always, there in the beginning, all the way through to the end.
So my friend Misty and her family have been preparing for this for years. Finally, the time had come. She had accepted a new job and was making the first bold step in her family’s relocation to CT. This past Sunday would be her last as an active part of LifeSong Lyman, her new church family awaiting with open arms to receive her at LifeSong Manchester. The rest of the family would follow, but Misty’s job required her to be up there and ready to work on Thursday …. today.
She stood in the atrium between services, surrounded by the love of many friends wanting a moment to wish her well and let her know how much she’d be missed. As I spoke with her husband, I waited for my opportunity to do the same.
That’s when I learned she was going to make the 14 hour trip on Tuesday, and she was going it alone.
I have to admit that the last words out of my mouth when we came back from Manchester 3 weeks ago was “next time …. we’re flying”. It’s a long ride in a car and with everything else happening in our lives, going back up this soon was not on our calendar. For whatever reason I felt very strongly that I was supposed to ride with her so she wouldn’t have to do it alone. Her reaction was just precious. I told her I would be honored to go, we’d just needed to find a way to get me back home.
Mark and I found an acceptable fare on Delta and booked my return for Wednesday out of Boston, flying into Charlotte ….. standing right there in the atrium. It happened that quick.
And so we left early Tuesday. It was a good trip to Manchester. The weather was in our favor, the traffic was manageable and the conversation between friends made the time pass quickly. After 15 hours we arrived tired, but safe at the home of another set of LifeSong friends who had already started their new lives there. On the front porch of her new home, Christy and I shared our stories, celebrating God’s love and redemptive grace while the others slept.
After a restful night, we readied ourselves and set out to run errands. Afterwards Misty dropped me off at Logan airport and we said our goodbyes. My connecting flight to JFK was all set for an on-time departure. I should have no problem getting back to Charlotte as scheduled.
All it took was 30 minutes’ delay on the tarmac by air traffic control to change all that. The 10 minute bus ride from one terminal to the next sealed the deal. I missed my flight out of JFK. They left!! I wasn’t alone though. Many stranded Delta passengers had already lined up at passenger services to get re-booked.
I was a little worried at first, but confident that they would get me on the next flight. My worry quickly changed to fear. Then frustration, desperation and hopelessness.
They weren’t solving my problem of being stranded AT ALL and didn’t seem to care that I was inconvenienced. No hotel room, but I did find you a blanket and here’s a Coke. Stay here now, but take the early shuttle to LGA for your 6:30 am flight.
I was wading knee-deep in a mire of self pity when Misty became aware of my predicament. I was low but trying to keep my chin up when she texted:
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
God has taught me some things the past few years …..be faithful, available and teachable ….. And Mission 101: Be flexible! It occurred to me that He was about to teach me something new.
It’s humbling to be at the mercy of others, when they have power to impact your circumstances. Humbling when the circumstances themselves appear so great they can’t be overcome. You feel powerless to change anything. You have to rely on others for help. You have to accept the crumbs and be thankful. It would have been easy to lose my Jesus at that point and allow myself to be carried away by raw negative emotion. Instead, I ate a generous helping of humble pie last night. This sense of entitlement we say is so rampant in society these days? I was just as guilty!! I had an expectation that they were going to fix it for ME and make it right. I was going to get on the next flight, I was going to get a free hotel room, I was going to be compensated for MY inconvenience. I deserved it!!
We are entitled to nothing, deserve nothing. I’m thankful I had a safe, fairly clean, air conditioned space with access to bathrooms if needed. I spent the night dozing in a chair at JFK and I survived. At 4:00 am, with luggage and blanket in tow, I asked a security guard at what time the shuttle would leave for LGA and learned that it left too late and took too long for me to make the 6:30 flight. God ordered my steps….. AirTrain from JFK to Jamaica Station, catch the “E train to Roosevelt Ave” (which I didn’t know at the time was the NY Subway), then the Q33 (a bus) to LGA. I survived the challenge of following signs in a strange place and finding where and how to pay. I got to experience a worker’s commute in the Big City. I got a tour. I sat next to a TSA worker headed for my same destination, who told me exactly where in the huge airport to go and who I should to talk to. At the Delta counter God had an angel of an ticket agent waiting, who made sure I made it home on the 6:30 flight.
Yes, Misty my friend, you were right. Romans 8:28