Monday, September 15, 2008

Flight Delay

This past Saturday morning, I attempted to fly back to Washington from Chicago. I had booked a flight that left Chicago at 9 am. Since it was raining a little bit when I woke up, I decided to go early on the off chance that I could catch an earlier flight. On the drive out, the rain picked up and I realized it was unlikely that flights would leave on time and I thought my chances for catching an earlier flight were actually improving because of the likely delays.

When I got to the airport, the ticket counters were a disaster. I assume that it was mostly people who had flights cancelled because of Ike. The security line was very short and I got right through, but the earlier flights had already left. The 9 am flight boarded late, but it looked like we were going to be pretty close to on time. Then, before we pushed back, there was lightning and we had to wait for over an hour. When we finally did push back, there were problems with the brakes on the plane. We needed to return to a gate, but many gates were flooding from all the rain and others were full. We waited for more than another hour before the plane finally returned to the gate and let us all off.

Those of us who travel a good bit immediately ran to try to get on other flights. I was one of the lucky few who got seats on a flight that was supposed to leave at 11, but already was delayed until after 12, and ultimately left somewhere closer to 2:30. My original flight eventually was cancelled.

Sitting in various airplanes waiting to leave it was pretty hard to get too upset. After all, although the rain was causing flooding of roads and runways around Chicago, it was nothing to what people had experienced over the weekend along the Gulf Coast and Houston (you are all in my prayers).

While I was waiting to leave because of the weather, I kept getting reports from pilots, etc., that the weather in Washington was nice. As I listened to some music, and thought some about this post, I went through all of the obvious analogies - being delivered from storms to nice days, etc. But, when I landed safely in Washington, what I ended up thinking about the most was just the delay in getting to my "final destination," as they say in airline lingo.

It made me think about all the delays I have experience in my spiritual journey. I wish I could say that there had been a straight path that I followed on the road to a relationship with Christ, but there hasn't been. I know that is the case for a lot of people that I have spoken with, and I suspect that is the case for most of us. There are starts and stops. Times that it seems like we are moving full speed ahead, but then, for one reason or anther, there is a delay. Times when it seems like we are on a straight road, but then we hit detours.

Although used in the context of a love song, I think of the following from Rascal Flatts' "Bless the Broken Road":

This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

I know that it is not what I think of the road and the delays that makes a difference. It is God's plan and for one reason or another (on the day that I sit at His side I hope to have a greater understanding of the Master Plan) it is the road that has led me straight to Him. I am blessed that God is patient with me and what I allow to become my delays. "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentence." 2 Peter 3:9

While I often feel differently in a worldly sense, in a spiritual sense it is not about how quickly we can get to our final destination. It makes no difference if we have delays or get rerouted. In many respects it is not about the journey at all (I don't say that in any way suggesting that how we live our lives is not important - of course it is) - it is about reaching that "final destination" by whatever road.

For anyone reading this, I would appreciate it if you would join me in prayers for friends, and millions of people that I don't yet know, that are recovering from the impact of the recent hurricanes (as well as those who continue attempting to recover from Katrina/Rita/etc.). Thanks.

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