Sunday, May 11, 2014

Blinded By My Own Frustrations!

A few weeks before I left to go to Florida, I started praying for my trip, asking the Lord to give me good weather, on-time flights and no traveling hassles.  About a week into this prayer, I felt the Lord  changing my prayer.  I shared with my Bible Study group that I felt led instead to pray that regardless of how the journey went, to ask the Lord to help me see Him in it all and to recognize His love and gifts to me and that I would have eyes open to see the goodness of God.

You can already tell where I'm going with this, can't you???

Well, the trip down went great, all planes on time, good connections, no weather problems, luggage arrived when I did - all good!!

I was scheduled to come home on Wednesday, April 30th.  Got up that morning, went for a bike ride, had breakfast, finished packing, met up with some friends for a short visit, back to my place for lunch, finished cleaning, packed up the car and headed out to the airport about 1pm.  My flight out was at 5:10pm.  The ride to the airport is a little over an hour, but I knew there was construction on I-75, so I wanted to give myself plenty of time.   Got to the airport about 2:15 no problem, turned in my rental car and then struggled with 3 pieces of luggage to the JetBlue check-in counter.

Thankfully, there was no one in line, either in front of me or in back of me.  Went up to the counter, hefted my luggage up on the scale only to find it was 4 lbs overweight.  The agent was very nice and asked me if I wanted to try to take some things out. Because there was no one else around, I did.  I got it down to only 2 lbs over and she said that was fine.  As she's typing in my info, she got a puzzled look on her face and asked,

"Were you supposed to fly out yesterday?" 
More typing. 
"Did you just recently book a flight to Boston?" 
More typing. 
"Just a second, I'll be right back.  I have to check on something." 

Few minutes pass and she comes back with another agent.  Meanwhile, I am frantically praying.  They both look at the computer, do a little typing, and then the male agent says, "Oh, I see the problem.  This flight was cancelled." 

Oh, no!  Not what you want to hear. 

So they proceed to tell me that because of severe thunderstorms and high winds in NYC, my flight from JFK to Burlington has been cancelled and there is no other flight out that night.    Never having encountered anything like this in any of my other travels, I asked what I was supposed to do.  The agent replied that's up to you.  I explained to him that I did not live around here, I had already turned in my rental car and I had no where to go.  I think he recognized he was dealing with a female who was quickly becoming franctic.  He directed me to a downstairs Courtesy Booth where I would find a list of area hotels that I could call for a room for that night and explained that most of them had shuttles that would pick me up.  I asked a few more questions.  He told me they would give me a "Stress Discount" for the hotel, so I would get a better price, then he stopped and said, "You know what?  Wait just a minute."  He picked up a phone and started making phone calls.  By this time, a line had started to form behind me.  After calling a couple of places, he told me he thought he could get me a better rate and why didn't I have a seat, he was going back to his office and he would come back and let me know what he could arrange.  By this time, the line had gotten quite a bit longer.  The other agent told me she could get me a flight out the next day and it was the only seat available for the next four days.  I told her I would take it.  I was going to fly out the next day at 1:10pm into Boston, then to JFK and then home to Burlington!!

I took a seat and waited.  About five minutes later the agent came out, told me he had a reservation for me at the Courtyard Marriott for only $64 and that the shuttle would be picking me up in about 15 minutes.  He also had my eTicket with the details of my rescheduled flight.

Angel #1

Found the Shuttle Stop outside and waited in about 90 degree extremely humid weather for about 15 minutes in blue jeans and a long sleeve shirt!  I am thanking God for helping me, but still feeling very anxious.  Got to the hotel and checked in to a very nice room.  Called a local restaurant that made deliveries and ordered salmon on a bed of spinach, red potatoes and coleslaw.  Excellent meal.  The bed was very comfortable and I got a good night's sleep and spent time praying for an uneventful and  good trip home the following day.

The next day the shuttle picked me up about 10:15am and I headed to the airport, struggling again with three very heavy pieces of luggage.  (Definitely a trip to the Chiropractor in my future!)  Made it to the JetBlue desk, dropped off the heaviest luggage and proceeded to my gate.  When I got to the gate, I found out that my flight had been delayed  :).  Joy! 

I found an Ask JetBlue courtesy desk and told the agent what time my connecting flight was and asked if he thought I would be able to make the connection.  He said there shouldn't be a problem.  I bought some water, some yogurt and a banana, thinking this might be the only lunch I get, and found a seat to settle in to wait.  Initially, the flight was supposed to leave at 1:10pm.  It was delayed until 1:39pm.  A little while later an update said it was delayed until 1:55pm.  Then a little later, another update - it was delayed until 2:02pm.  We finally left the runway about 3pm!.  My connecting flight from Boston was leaving at 6:31pm, so I was a little anxious about making it.  Turns out the woman sitting next to me was a frequent flyer and told me where my gate would be and that I would have plenty of time to get to it. 

Angel #2

We landed about 5:30pm, but I didn't actually get off the plane until about 5:45pm.  I started searching immediately for my gate, found it and found that this plane was delayed until 7:59 and would start boarding about 7:25pm.  I talked to the agent again about my connecting flight to Burlington and he said that if the flight from Boston to JFK was delayed, the flight from JFK to Burlington would automatically be delayed; they wouldn't leave without me!  Phew!!

At this point, my cellphone had died because I had forgotten to shut it off on the previous flight.  Knowing that I would need to call my daughter to pick me up when I arrived in Burlington, I started looking for an outlet to charge my phone.  After about 10 minutes walking around the airport with two heavy pieces of luggage, I finally found one.  But now I was stuck in this seat for at least 1/2 hr and I was really thirsty!  The lady sitting beside me was sleeping, but after a few minutes, she woke up and asked me if I would mind watching her luggage while she went to the Ladies Room.  I said, "Sure and when you get back, I'll ask the same of you."  So I was able to get some water and settle back down to wait. 

Angel #3

About a 1/2 hr into my wait, the agent at the gate made an announcement that we would be on a full flight and overhead cargo area would be at a minimum; did anyone want to gate check their luggage?  I thought that sounded like a good idea (then I wouldn't have to struggle to lift the luggage into the overhead bin).  I had done this before and thought I knew how it worked!!!  I was to find out the hard way I was mistaken!

Well, this plane finally took off about 8:30pm and we were on our way to New York.  We landed about 9:35pm and my next and last flight was scheduled to leave at 10:40pm, so I was feeling okay about making it to the next gate on time.  When I got off the plane, I looked for my checked luggage where I thought it would be and it wasn't there.  Thankfully, there was an attendant there and I asked him about it.  He looked for it, went outside, came back in, asked me what it looked like, asked a couple more questions and went to look again.  He came back without it and said something to me that I could not understand.  He was a foreigner and talked with a very heavy accent, so we were having a hard time communicating.  I was getting increasingly frustrated and very anxious.  I apologized to him a couple of times and asked him to repeat himself.  Just then another gentlemen embarked off the plane (I actually think he was the pilot) and he could see I was obviously distressed, so he stopped and asked if he could help.

Angel #4

 Between the two of them, I finally understood them to say my luggage had probably gone to baggage claim and I needed to check at the Ask JetBlue desk between gates 9 and 10.  I have to admit at this point, I was becoming a lot anxious, remembering what was in that luggage and my next boarding time.  Struggling with my luggage I found the desk and was told I could find my luggage at Carousel 4 in Baggage Claim.  I all but ran to find it.  As I walked through the double doors that led to Baggage Claim, I got this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach and looked back from where I had come to see this big sign above the doors - "DO NOT ENTER."  All of a sudden, it dawned on me - I could not go back in!!  What was I going to do?  Franctically looking around, I saw someone with Airport workclothes on with an empty luggage rack. 

Angel #5

I ran over to him and explained my dilemma and he said let's check Carousel 6.  As we started walking toward the carousel, my luggage miracously appeared.  I grabbed it and he directed me to the escalator and told me to go up.  I rushed up the escalator, still struggling with my luggage, only to realize I had to check in all over again!!! 

By this time, it was 9:55pm.  Mercifully, the check in line was not very long, but my luggage got flagged and I had to wait for what seemed a 1/2 hr, but was probably only 5-7 minutes.  The agent opened both pieces, checked inside, then got the hand wand and ran it over both pieces, taking her sweet time doing it.  I asked her if she knew how far Gate 23 was and she said just down the hall.  I made it to Gate 23 about 10:10pm, only to find that flight was also delayed!!!

I sat down about ready to cry, frustrated, hot, tired and really hungry - the yogurt and banana a distant memory.  Amazingly, this flight was only delayed about 20 minutes and we started boarding about 10:25pm.  Once on the plane, we had a long wait for nine other passengers who had just landed on a flight from San Francisco and were running to catch our flight.  As we were sitting there waiting, I went to look at my watch to see what time it was and it was not on my arm!! 

My first thought was, "Great, everything else has gone wrong today, why not this?"  Then I thought, "Well, it's just a watch and it can be replaced.  At least I'm on the plane for home."  A few minutes later, I leaned forward to get my water bottle and something on the floor caught my eye - my watch!!!  Thank you, Lord!

Our plane took off for Burlington about 11:00pm and finally touched down in Burlington about 12:05am.  I was ready to kiss the ground when I walked off the plane!!

Long, sad story I've just told you, but I do have a point to all this.  Throughout this long, crazy day, I prayed frantic prayers and tried to get some peace.  I had none!  I cried out to the Lord several times to help to settle my heart and spirit, it seemed, to no avail.

I was very disappointed with my reactions to all these circumstances and for days after, asked the Lord to show me where and how I had missed Him.  I felt like I had had absolutely no grace for that day and truth be known, I felt that I had been abandoned.  Now, I am mature enough to KNOW that I had NOT been abandoned by the Lord, but I FELT that I had been.  My heart was anxious pretty much the whole day and I could not seem to get any peace.

This morning I felt the Lord gave me some revelation about this day as I was spending my devotional time with Him.  First, the Lord reminded me of the prayer I had prayed before I went to Florida asking Him to help me see Him in all phases of the trip and to recognize His love and gifts to me through it and to open my eyes to His goodness.  The Lord then showed me that He had indeed answered that prayer, that even though I was anxious through out the whole day, I did recognize each time He came through for me.  This is what I read in my devotional -

"When we are awakened in the Spirit, we see that God never sleeps (Psalm 121:2-5), and that He is always moving about His work to shape and arrange events in His wise government of our lives . . .

Do we understand the fullness of grace with which He looks over every event that concerns us now?  No, I am afraid that at first our understanding is still somewhat darkened.  For we think that our turning to God, our crying out to Him, has nudged Him awake toward us, as if He had been sleeping.  In fact, it is quite the opposite:  It is our soul that has been awakened by the movement of God. 

It is important for you to understand this truth - that our lives are moved under the all-wise directing of God.  For if we are not careful, our old manner of thinking will allow us to continue believing that we must somehow make God wake up - by our prayers and 'good' behavior - and get Him to move on our behalf . . . .we think that God is capable of being slothful toward us.  And so we accuse Him of neglecting us when circumstances become painful, or simply not to our liking.  May He wake you - those who have ears to hear - with thousands and thousands of voices, each one shouting about one of the countless ways that He and all His works are good . . . and only good."  (You Set My Spirit Free, A 40-Day Journey in the Company of John of the Cross, arranged and paraphrased by David Hazard)

My prayer - Lord, help me to see all the goodness that is coming to me from you . . . the goodness that has already come . . . and the goodness I have yet to see because I am blinded by my own frustrations.

The Lord showed me that He had answered my prayer - I did see His hand at work.  I did recognize His goodness.  I did give thanks.  And His grace was upon me the whole time. The reason I felt so abandoned was because I was blinded by my own frustrations and I was still expecting the results of the first prayer I had prayed.  He was never for a moment surprised at the circumstances I was facing; He was not sleeping or waiting for me to nudge Him.  He was in control the whole time!!  He was directing every aspect of my day.  And at every step of the way He made provision for me!  He is awake, alive and ever active in every aspect of my life!! I need to learn to look past my frustrations and see Him, really see Him and that is what will bring peace.

As I encourage myself with this truth, I encourage you, too.  Look, really look for Him, aware that He is aware of all that is happening in your life today and He has made provision for it all.  Our lives are moved under His direction; not one thing happens to us that He is not aware of!

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