Every now and then I have the opportunity to get away from my desk and travel somewhere to speak. For months I had been looking forward to a Ladies’ Brunch at a church in St. Louis, Missouri. Flying there the day before, I arrived at O’Hare Airport in Chicago at 8:30 AM and checked the board for my gate number.
What! I skimmed down the roster and saw that nearly every flight was DELAYED or CANCELLED. “There was a fire this morning in our main radar facility,” an airline employee explained. He pointed to a long line of passengers and said, “An agent will rebook your flight.”
I joined the line then called Bonnie, my contact at the church. “We’ll start praying,” she promised.
The line barely moved. When an hour had passed and hundreds of people were still lined up ahead of me, I called my husband in a panic. “Can you look into train schedules to St. Louis?” He called back to say that Amtrak was sold out until late tonight. I decided to wait a little longer before opting for the train. I was chewing my fingernails.
It took more than three hours to finally talk to a booking agent, so I had plenty of time to worry. All around me, people were shouting at employees and yelling into cell phones, explaining why they absolutely HAD to get to their destinations. My stomach churned with worry. Then it occurred to me that God was still in control. (I know, sometimes I’m slow-witted about these things).
Did I believe that God had called me to speak at this church? Yes.
Then if He wanted me there, I would get there. And if He had another plan for the brunch tomorrow, then all the worrying in the world wouldn’t make a bit of difference.
When I finally spoke to an agent, I was calm as I explained my problem. “I can re-book you for 10:00 am tomorrow,” she said.
“That’s too late. I’m the keynote speaker at 9:00 am tomorrow.”
“I’m sorry but I have no seats available today.”
I didn’t budge. “I have to be there,” I repeated, still calm. “Can you book me on any flight out then re-route me back to St. Louis?” She explained that without radar, flights were landing and taking off one at a time. The chances of getting on any plane out of O’Hare today were grim. I still didn’t budge.
“Let me look again,” she said with a sigh. I listened as her fingers clicked across the keyboard. She looked up in surprise. “I do have a seat on a flight at 2:30 today—if the incoming plane manages to land here, that is.” I told her to book it.
At 3:30, I was still waiting at the gate with the other worried passengers. One young man was supposed to be the best man at his brother’s wedding. Three sweet ladies from Ireland were trying to get to their relative’s house. A young soldier on leave from Japan hadn’t seen his wife and 4-year-old son in months. He stood up and announced, “I’m renting a car. If anyone wants a ride, you’re welcome to come.”
Maybe this was God’s plan for me. I decided to join him. So did the Irish ladies and the best man. “But let’s check with the gate agent one last time before we give up,” I suggested. And at that very moment she learned that our airplane had finally landed. “But will it be able to take off again?” we all asked. She was reasonably certain it would. Eventually. And later that evening, it did.
The brunch went well the next morning. I testified firsthand that God answers prayer, and told the ladies we should all stop worrying. Then I learned that all of the flights back to Chicago that day—and the next day—had been cancelled. And I had another speaking engagement in Michigan in a day and a half. I guess I needed a second lesson in faith.
Jesus urged His followers to go the extra mile, and Bonnie and her committee members lived out His command. They drove me halfway home, and my husband and his good friend drove the other half to pick me up. We all spent six hours in a car. But I made it to my next event.
Is there a moral to this tale? Jesus said it best: “You of little faith, why are you so afraid? . . . Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”
God is in control—and I’m not Him.