Tuesday, August 11, 2009

God's travel blessings

It’s a travel day. We’re headed out to sunny California to the Celebrate Recovery Summit at Saddleback Church. There are 17 of us from Heartland Community Church on this flight, a flight that had a slow start getting off the ground, but is now soaring freely in the air, thank God. It reminds me of so many of us and our struggles in life. Sometimes we get stalled and we can’t seem to get off the ground, but then God picks us up and allows us to soar.

It’s been a mixed bag of blessings today and I’m sitting in the middle of a 4 hour flight, so I’ll bore you with some of the details. First off, we left for the O’Hare airport in Chicago at 5:00 am for our scheduled 8:30 am flight. We get to the airport and attempted to circumvent waiting in line by checking our bags at the curb; it’s always been our preferred mode of check-in in past travels. Luckily, Bill notices that the attendant charges us for three bags, but we only have two. This is not something that can be corrected at the curb. He takes our credit card and goes inside, to the terminal, to correct the mistake. We’re still waiting for him to return 15 minutes later, so Bill goes in search of him, finds him, and all is well. Today’s check-in was not as quick as former ones had been, but maybe it was just an indication of what the day had in store. Still, no problem, we have plenty of time for our flight.

We get through security and I go the bathroom….I know…TMI…but there’s a point I want to make here about the bathrooms in O-Hare. You see, you can say whatever you want about O’Hare, good or bad, but there is one thing I absolutely LOVE about this airport…the plastic covered toilet seats that rotate to a clean “throne” when you wave your hand over the automated contraption on the wall – telling you how many rotations have been made. I have always thought this was one of the best inventions ever made and it blesses my socks off each time I go to O’Hare. It’s so cool not to worry about lining the seat with TP before you sit or having to “hover” over the seat without making contact. Oh the joy! Anyway, some people want to be a killjoy about this and insist that the plastic just keeps going around and being re-used by everyone. I choose not to believe this pessimistic view of a modern day blessing.

So, we get on the flight and end up being delayed for maintenance to look at a malfunction. They come over the speakers and tell us they can’t find the part they need to fix it, so we will have to de-board and get onto another flight. Two minutes later, they tell us, they are going to be able to fix the malfunction after all. I’m not at all comfortable with this scenario, and would much rather be on the ground than on a plane that was put together with what was probably duct tape. Regardless, they don’t ask for my opinion, so we eventually start to taxi on the runway. After coasting along for a little bit, the captain comes back over the speakers and tells us they have a completely new problem and we are going to have to go back to the gate to allow the maintenance crew to come aboard to see if they can fix it. Now its’ nearly two hours after we first boarded the plane, and we’re told that we won’t be able to fly this aircraft after all and we will need to get off the plane and wait for another plane. But I’m okay with this, you understand, because I see it as more of God’s blessings and protection.. I didn’t want to go up in a malfunctioning plane anyway and much prayer had gone into safe travel for our entire group. Praise the Lord!
Not only were we, SAFELY, still on the ground, but they ended up giving us lunch vouchers to help towards our lunch as we waited another two hours for our new plane to get in from LaGuardia. Additionally, one member of our group had an unexpected drop in his blood sugar and was near the point of fainting. We were able to get him some food and revive him for the rest of the journey….yes, God is always good!

Now we’re on the plane and I’m excited about how God has blessed us. It may be four hours later than we planned to be in route, but that’s an inconvenience I can overlook. I’m beginning to see that perspective and focus have a lot to do with the outcome of many situations. Focusing on God’s blessings in our delays, and not the tiresome inconveniences they imposed upon our trip, has helped me to CELEBRATE his goodness.

That doesn’t mean I have perfect perspective ALL the time. Right now I’m dealing with my impatience with the traveler in front of me. I have had a pet peeve, for a LONG time, with travelers who recline their seats on planes that are already much too compact. Those of us that have vertical fortitude and long legs are especially challenged with someone wanting to put their seatbacks into our knees and their heads in our laps. I’m just not ready to get that close to my fellow travelers! Yet I’m trying to understand that this man may feel he has an entitlement to use the reclining feature on his seat, even though he is in a roomy exit row and doesn’t have to worry about the person in front of him returning the favor. Oh well, there’s a blessing in there somewhere. I think I just have to look past my selfishness long enough to see it. Opening my eyes probably wouldn’t hurt either. Sometimes we shut our eyes to things because we don’t want to find the good in it. Guilty! I guess I’m headed to a good place this week. Hopefully, there’s help for me yet.