Have you experienced traveling "hiccups?" Have you missed your flight, picked the wrong lane of traffic and got stuck, or missed an exit? These things happen to me all of the time!
Recently I was traveling overseas and found myself in an usually sticky travel situation. The plan was simple. Our group would fly out of Little Rock to Dallas. We would fly from Dallas to Beijing, and then fly from Beijing to our final destination.
A slight delay in Dallas resulted in missing our connection in Beijing. Thankfully, the airline was on top of the situation. Our group was rebooked on an outgoing flight the next day and given hotel and meal vouchers. After a three hour hunt for luggage that turned up empty, we arrived at our hotel and crashed.
The next day was a marathon day full of surprises. We found our luggage and also found out that we were never booked on the outgoing flight. We had been placed on standby. We "stood by" all day long!
After many hours of waiting, running from terminal to terminal, and talking to more people than I can remember, we found ourselves in a foreign country and not sure when or how we would be able to leave. Back to the hotel we went, but this time it was not quite as easy. Our visa's had expired.
Day three was going to be a long day. Would we be able to get a flight? Would an expired visa be a problem? Our group arrived at the airport early. We wanted to have plenty of time to navigate the issues that would come up during our day.
I can assure you that we were praying and trusting God to lead us every step of the way. The first good news came about two hours into the day. We were confirmed passengers on an outgoing flight! Next came the customs process. We were called to the counter and questioned. We told the agent our situation and explained why we were in their country with an expired visa. The customs agent stamped our passports and we were allowed to pass through. We went through security and found our gate. We did a little shopping, bought some lunch, and waited for our flight. WHEW! The day was working out and we were relieved.
About an hour before our flight, I saw a customs agent, security guard, and airline personnel walking towards me. The lady walked up to me and said, "You have a problem." In my best southern girl way, I smiled and said, "I do not have a problem. I am doing great." She looked at me and said, "No. You have a problem." My heart sank. I said, "ok." She told me to gather the women and follow the agents. We walked back to the Customs desk. We were told to sit in a holding area while the agents figured out what was going on with our group. Very little communication took place during this time. There were tears, prayers, and lots of uncertainties.
After several tense moments, we were able to leave the customs area, go back through security, and arrived at our gate with five minutes to spare. We boarded our flight just in time. What an ordeal! It took almost three days to solve our traveling hiccup. As I look back on the experience, I am reminded of three things.
• God is always in control! Even when our lives feel out of control and the outcome is unclear, God is making the way. He is the "Way Maker!" "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." (Isaiah 43:19, NIV)
• We can always trust God! It is easy to place our trust in circumstances. We can look to a ticket or an itinerary and think, "That's the plan." However, when the plan does not work out, it matters Who we trust. "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord is the Rock eternal." (Isaiah 26:3-4)
• A day is coming when we will leave this world! "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins. We are saved the moment that we admit that we have sin in our lives, trust that Jesus' death paid for our sins, and ask Jesus to save us from our sins. These simple steps change the direction of our lives, both now and forever.
God is faithful to teach us. I will be heading overseas again in the near future. This time I will go with a new perspective knowing that God is the One who makes the way. I plan to focus more on Him and less on my travel itinerary. How about you? Do you need to focus more on Him and less on your plans or circumstances? My friend, He will show you the way! He is the Way Maker!