I stood at the US Airways ticket counter and cried. I was coming off of the absolute hardest week of my academic career – little sleep, intimidating presentations, and being ill prepared for an incredibly difficult Greek exam. All I wanted was to be home: to go on adventures with Little Brother, to have coffee with Mom, and watch football with Dad. “Please, Sir,” I said with tears slowly trickling down my face, “Please let me on the plane.”
“Sorry, Honey,” he replied, “but you missed it.”
It was 6:34 am, and my flight was scheduled to take off at 6:42. When I rushed into the airport that morning, I was delayed by the “Self Check-in” machine’s inability to recognize me as a passenger. After being sent to two different airport personnel, I was starting to question if I would make it to the gate in time. The man finally printed my boarding pass and I (literally) ran to security. As I dashed away at 6:20 am, the man called after me that they would close the doors 10 minutes before take off.
With only one security line open, I realized as I waited in the unusually long line that I wasn’t going to make it if I continued waiting. I spent at least 3 minutes [which felt like an eternity], contemplating if I should cut to the front and ask for grace from my fellow travelers.
I felt like I was a middle schooler trying to muster the guts to pour a can of Coca-Cola on the school bully…
With just enough courage, I picked up my Vera Bradley duffle bag, with colors so bright my nerves were offended, and I walked forward. They showed me grace, and let me cut, sending well wishes as I ran through.
But when I finally made it to my gate, I was two minutes late.
I could see the plane through the window; it hadn’t yet moved to begin taxiing. If he had opened the doors, I could have taken my seat and been on that flight. I would have been the most obnoxious person on the plane, no doubt, but it was possible.
And I wanted it. Desperately. I wanted to get on US Airways Flight 2610. I wanted a layover in Charlotte and I wanted to land at Washington-Dulles at 11:35am.
I cried not out of belligerence, but out of desperation. Why wouldn’t the man open the door and let me on? Wasn’t it clear that I wanted it? What ever happened to the sentiment, “The customer is always right”?
The airline employee turned to his computer and said, “Let’s see what else we can find for you.”
“Sir, I need to get on that plane! Please.” I was so upset. Mostly with myself for being late, but also with God for not working it out. I prayed silently, “Lord, please! I know you can get me on that plane. Please! I just want to be home.”
The man spoke up, “Well, this is against our policy, but we have a flight to Washington National leaving at 8am. There are a few spots left, would that work? I’m not really supposed to do this, but I want to help get you home.”
This alternative flight had no layover and an earlier arrival time into an airport an hour closer to my parent’s house than my original flight. Not only was not late, I would have time to get coffee (& breathe) before boarding.
And that’s when I encountered one of the most vivid + challenging lessons of my life:
It is only when we are able to release what we think we want that we are able to embrace what He has for us.
How many tears have I shed in desperation for that thing? How many nights have I laid awake begging Jesus to make sense of the confusion that flooded my heart?
How many new flights have I missed because I wanted so badly to be on the first one?
It was about more than getting home. It was about what I wanted and why I wanted it. It wasn’t just a reflection of my poor time management that morning, it was a reflection of how desperately I lack trust in the goodness of God to be more than.
More than what I think I want. More than what I think I need. More than what I’m capable of accomplishing. More than my feeble words can capture.