The news greeted me as an accompaniment to my breakfast. The plane is delayed. There’s a problem with it. Our day of travel home is ruined. Grunts and groans rose around me. Knowing myself, my natural response would have been to join the moaning and declare the day to be lost.
I was faced with a choice. Join the ranks of complaining or continue to seek God’s face in the day He had made.
The desire to attempt to control the situation rose up in me. However, what could I accomplish? I am no master of airlines. I cannot control the mechanics of an aircraft. I have no power to straighten out these circumstances. And I know myself and the kind of traveller I am. I like airports – they get me places. I hate airports – they are the place of hurry up and wait, continuous clock checking, a controlled level of panic fills the air constantly. Realizing that anxiety was close at hand, I prayed.
Listen, God! Please, pay attention! Can you make sense of these ramblings, my groans and cries? Psalm 5:1 (MSG)
Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing. Psalm 5:1 (NIV)
The hiccups continued. My prayer for peace for my heart and a reminder of God’s presence with me did not make the bumps in my day any smoother. The security clearance questions were intense. Delays beset me all around. Baggage was claimed in the dark due to a power cut in a terminal. Planes could not taxi in to gates, therefore boarding was delayed. Bumper to bumper traffic includes airplanes taxiing to take off from airports too. At each moment, each bump on the way, as anxiety threatened to steal over the banks of my heart, the prayer rose higher – God, there is nothing I can do about this, fill me with your peace.
I frequently doubt God’s ability to hear me. His word states over and over that He hears and listens to all who call on Him. (Psalm 145:18, 19) But sometimes, it feels like I am throwing my concerns at His feet and His attention is fixed elsewhere and I am forgotten. That is the temptation of my heart to think that God is too busy to care about me. But that lie is refuted with the knowledge that God is the One who created. His power defies logic and understanding. He formed the galaxies and the starry host and He knows them so well that He knows the numbers of stars and has named them all (Psalm 147:4, 5) And He didn’t stop creating there. This is the God who created me, who formed me uniquely in a wonderful and beautiful way (Psalm 139). This is the God who adds and subtracts even as He knows the intimacies of my life because He knows the number of hairs on my head (Matthew 10:30) This God of power and majesty cares for the vast expanse of the heavens and desires to be in conversation with me. And He wants to know it all. The good, the blessings that have fallen into my lap, that cause a smile to light up my face. The sad, what breaks my heart, causes anxiety, plain old hurts. The laments, the cave existence that seems to never go away. He wants to know how it is with me and He is never scared off by what I have to say. It’s a lie to say that God can’t hear me. This is the God who listens more deeply than I could imagine to the cries of my heart.
But you’ll welcome us with open arms when we run for cover to you. Psalm 5:11 (MSG)
But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Psalm 5:11a (NIV)
In the third airport of the trip home, I was told that they had sent on the plane without me. It was late and I would never have made it through customs, gotten my bag within a logical amount of time. However, I was frazzled, had been awake more hours than I would like, and my ability to think clearly was not there. “God, you are walking with me and you have your hand on all of this,” was my prayer. A gate agent has never been a more encouraging sight. And blessing fell in my lap. It was the refuge my tired brain and body craved, a sign of God’s listening to my life and heart. There was a hotel room in my name, a shuttle to transport me there, and a boarding pass for the next morning’s flight.
God had been listening all along. He had been the place of refuge all day. He had been the covering my soul craved and was desperate for. His peace had permeated all of the corners of my heart and mind. I again had tangible evidence of His listening ear and the shelter that only He can provide.