I’m exhausted. It’s about 12 hours since I set out from Indianapolis this morning to fly to Newark, NJ. Usually a simple two hour plane ride – direct. But when I am out here and back, and only stay two nights, I can book a much lower fare by going on USAir instead of Continental – a savings of more than $600. But that necessitates stopping in either Charlotte or Philadelphia along the way.
Today, based on my schedule, I chose to pick the connection in Philly. That way, in case of a cancellation, at least I could drive or catch a train to my destination in Westfield, NJ. In fact, I always stay in the same room at the hotel, the Westfield Inn – Room 222. Kind of like a second home after almost 6 years of making this trip. But today was a real challenge to get here – and the trip is the subject of tonight’s post.
For starters, the flight out of Indy was about an hour late. The east coast was socked in with weather and when we finally boarded flight US3271, I knew it would be tight to catch the connection in Philly. In fact, I called the airline and they let me know they had me double booked on a second flight – just in case.
After arriving in Philly, I headed to the agent and was told that I was re-booked on a Continental flight – but it was cancelled. However, my original flight to Newark was late arriving in Philadelphia, so I headed to gate F19 to catch flight 4522, scheduled for departure at 4:10 this afternoon. I hurried across the airport by shuttle, only to have to wait for the inbound passengers to deplane – then things started to go wrong. Our baggage was loaded, but the cargo door wouldn’t close, so maintenance was called – an inconvenient delay.
Finally, with all the issues resolved, we boarded, buckled up, turned off phones, etc., started the engines; and then shut them down again. Ground hold in Newark. Everybody got their luggage and we were told to get off. A two hour delay. Another inconvenience. Then, praise God, we received word that we had a window to take off and get a landing slot in Newark. The pilot was already on board doing his pre-flight check, and it was pretty warm. I saw him open the hatch over his head in the cockpit. Wrong thing to to – it wouldn’t close. You guessed it – maintenance to to the plane – again. Another delay.
Finally, we boarded. A poor man who had waited all day for a flight to Newark boarded with us. But at the last minute, security came on the plane and removed him – because he did not get on the flight until after the original scheduled departure time. Come on….. The guy was desperate and there were plenty of empty seats – half the passengers refused to get back on the plane. All the time, we were told that we had a ten minute window to push back from the gate or we would lose our landing spot in Newark. Let’s cause a little stress….. and the gate agent is still dragging this man off the plane.
And did I mention that this was a twin engine prop? Not a jet – and I fully expected to see Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble come out as our pilots – stick their feet out the bottom of the plane, and start running down the tarmac to get us airborne. It was that old and decrepit. Finally, with less than a minute to spare, we pushed back from the gate and promptly had another 10 minute hold on the runway. But then, and only then, we were off to Newark. Thank God. Full cloud cover and rainy conditions made the flight a little bumpy, and I am not a white knuckle flyer – in fact, I enjoy flying, but I was ready to get to Newark.
You get the idea – delay after delay after delay. Even when we got to Newark, finally, we couldn’t get our gate-checked luggage. Know why? Cargo door wouldn’t open……… so much for maintenance. After everybody got off the plane, they had to go down through the floor and carry all the luggage through the plane and deliver it to baggage claim. Another delay…….
And every step of the way I was boldly reminded that I need God’s protection for safe travel. Of course, I also need more patience, but the big thing is that I am not in control. The truth is that God is in control – not just today, but every day. And therein lies the lesson for this evening. Every time I fly, I say a prayer. I’m not superstitious – it isn’t like that. But each time I get ready to take-off, I say a silent prayer for my family, safe travel, and for God’s will in my life. And the final line is always the same – an excerpt from Luke 23:46, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit…”
These are the words that Christ used on the cross before he died, and I have always thought, from the time that I was a little child, that if Christ entrusted God with His spirit, then so should I. And it’s been that way on every flight I have taken since the first time I flew in a jet – in 1964. And I always say those words as the plane takes off the runway – heading up toward heaven. I don’t think I have ever told anyone about this – not even Janet. But it’s the truth. If something should happen to me, I want God to look over my family – and this affirmation is the most holy thing I can think of to say to God. It is my own special time of supreme submission to the Father – almost sacred space to me.
So my encouragement tonight is for you to recognize God’s love for you and His care for your life. And my prayer is that God will bless you, and keep you, and make His face to shine upon you. Amen.