Once upon a time (last week), a girl went on a trip. Three very long days, all very much out of her comfort zone. Finally, finally she commenced the trip home after a delay on the first leg of the journey. By the time she readied to board the last flight home, she was wilting–physically and emotionally. Did I mention she traveled with only carry on luggage–the same two pieces that she always used when carrying baggage on an airplane?
She handed her boarding pass, started down the jetway. Heard a voice calling. Turned. A man motioned her back.
He felt the front of the little red suitcase, then pointed to the contraption meant to measure the compatibility of a bag to the overhead bin.
She huffed. “I’ve always fit this in overhead bin.”
He pointed again. She tossed it in there, but it wouldn’t go. Turned it around. Still no fit.
“We’ll have to check it for you.”
“But I’ve always carried this bag on the plane.” A whine now entered her voice. Then the meltdown happened. “Fine. Just do whatever you want. I don’t care.” She shoved the bag toward the man, who calmly tagged it and handed her a claim check. She stomped down the jetway to the plane. Sat in her seat, leaned her head against the window, and wiped silent tears from her eyes as the baby in the row behind her started a high-pitched squeal.
Why, Lord? Why? All I want is to get home! I’m so very tired!
Then an interesting thing happened. The plane door was shut. The man next to her moved to the aisle seat, leaving the empty space between them on an almost full flight. She relaxed (as much as possible with the squealing baby behind her) and opened her book. Two hours passed. The descent began. The exhausted panic started swirling again in her chest at the thought of a stop at baggage claim before arriving at her car and starting the almost hour drive homeward.
A whimper. Why, Lord? Why? All I want is to get home! I’m so very tired!
Suddenly a gentle whisper in her head, in a voice the girl had learned to recognize over the years as that of the Holy Spirit.
I didn’t take your bag to punish you, but to bless you.
To bless her? A memory stirred, a conversation about the convenience of having a bag checked at the gate–no onboard hassle and no cost. Then the voice spoke again.
I know you’re tired. I didn’t want you to have to fight with your bag. But don’t worry. It will be off the plane at the beginning and the parking lot shuttle will be there when you reach the platform.
She straightened. The first two, she might have believed. The last? Nearly impossible! And yet, that voice, so familiar, had proven itself faithful time and time again. Tears again filled her eyes as she thanked the Lord for seeing her, for loving her with such tenderness.
The plane landed. The baggage thumped down the ramp onto the carousel, hers about the tenth one. She grabbed it, headed for the elevator. Waited. Waited. Got sick of waiting and headed for the escalator. As the bottom step faded to flat ground, the parking shuttle van pulled up. She waved. Ran to catch it.
The driver stepped down, took her luggage in hand.
“Oh, thank you for stopping! This is the first good thing that has happened to me today.” Then she climbed aboard, sat down–and realized what she’d said.
Everything had happened just as the Lord had whispered to her heart, His gentle kindness at the end of an few intense days of obedience to His call. And in response, she revealed the full depravity of her heart. Did she thank God? Worship Him? Even utter amazement for what He’d done? No, she spoke words completely untrue, words fueled by the emotion and exhaustion of the moment instead of the truth of the day. So many good things had happened earlier, before the fiasco of the flights. Catching the shuttle had been the least of these.
She bowed her head and repented her sin, lamented the state of her heart. And yet as she reflected in her anguish, she realized something more. That God’s kindness in that situation was more than the dealing with the bag and the transportation. It was bringing to light to true state of her heart in that moment.