We live in a small community and attend a small church, approximately 60 some members any given Sunday. Hence, we are pretty personal with our prayer requests – the pastor asks for requests from the congregation during our pastoral prayer time. Usually, I’m fairly close to my chest with prayer requests, limiting them to health or praise reports.
Until I got my travel itinerary for my trip to North Carolina. Yes, I’d made the reservation, but I must have been on too many cups of coffee when I scheduled only an hour layover in O’Hare – especially since I had to switch carriers. I know O’Hare…IF I land on time, and IF my plane actually gets to the gate REMOTELY close to the time of arrival, the gates aren’t easy to find and most of all, my luggage has a tendency to want to visit Cleveland while I’m headed to Orlando.
So, I asked for prayer. Seriously…asked our sweet congregation to pray for my connection, that I would make it. WITH my luggage.
God apparently cares about travel and connections, because he listened to the prayers of sixty Baptists…and answered creatively….
I live three hours from the airport, so Sarah (my daughter) and I traveled down to Duluth the day before, hitting “The Guardian” (great movie!) and staying overnight at the Econolodge. Yeah, that’s me, big spender. We arrived to our tiny airport (2 gates) over an hour and a half early (read: 6:15am) Usually that gives us enough time to check in, rearrange our carry-on, place a phone call, buy a diet coke, use the restroom and tell ourselves that next time we’ll arrive thirty minutes before departure. This time, however, some sort of Jericho was happening and everyone was trying to get outta Dodge. The line snaked around the flimsy ribbon barriers (never before used) and down the hall, past the bathrooms and the pinball machines and nearly into the shipping office.
I glanced at the clock. Counted people. Averaged the time spent on each person.
If I was on the Amazing Race, I would have been rebooking my flight. We got up to the e-ticket counter about twenty minutes before we had to board. Swell. Only, not swell because the e-ticket screen read, “Flight Cancelled.”
Hmm. Thankfully, Northwest had taken the liberty of canceling my flight to O’Hare and rebooking me on a direct flight to Charlotte from Minneapolis. If I made the puddle-jumper from Duluth, I would have a comfy two hour layover in Minneapolis to grab a bagel, a Starbucks white mocha and possibly some extra reading material. (Just in case I read both books and the manuscript shoved into my carryon. After all, it WAS a two hour flight).
We got to security twenty minutes before the plane was due to depart. I eyed the line…both ahead of me and behind me. Not lookin’ pretty. The guy behind me said, “Hey, don’t worry, we’re all on this flight, they have to hold it.” Uh, no they don’t, I said, to myself (because we were all a little edgy).
Just as I got to security, a voice from heaven announced the plane would be delayed. I thought, “hey, the guy behind me was right!” Until they added, “because the mechanics haven’t approved it for flight.”
Yeah, that sounded good.
Made it through security, (although my daughter had to surrender her pint-size containers of nail polish), and found a seat in the now overcrowded waiting room. We waited. And waited. An hour and a half later, we boarded, waited another 30 minutes, then took off for Minneapolis.
So much for that cushy layover.
Because God listened and answered our prayers, our gate to Charlotte happened to be the next one over. They had already begun to board when we landed.
We took off, happy to make it to Charlotte. And even happier when the thirty minute layover turned into an hour. Time for lunch at Chili’s express. And then another two hours. Time for a pedicure at the Airport Spa (like, the greatest invention since rolling computer bags)! And then another thirty minutes (time for that Starbucks). By the time we got on the plane, the sun had begun to set, sending a warm, welcome home glow across the tarmac. We arrived in New Bern, North Carolina, to an airport no larger than the one we departed at the beginning of the day.
And our luggage even made it.
We met our hostess (who had this spiffy little VW Jetta stick shift she let me drive…I felt about 16!) and she led us to our BEACH HOUSE where we stayed for the next three days.
It was about 41 degrees when we left Duluth. That night in North Carolina, I stood on the balcony in my shorts and tee-shirt, the salty air filming my skin, smelling the sea and listening to the waves break in cadence and decided that yes, from now on, I’m asking for prayer before every trip.
Because God is a great travel agent.