I have to layover WHERE?

I won’t mention the company’s name, but suffice it to say it was not named “Competent”.

My request was simple. At least I thought so. Due to recent health challenges (I thank God I’m getting well), my husband and I needed to revise our travel plans. We had been scheduled to go on to Madrid after spending several days in Munich, Germany. This travel was needed for business, but we felt that both legs of the trip (Munich and Madrid) were more than “our legs” could handle. So, the night before we were to leave I called the travel company to cancel the “Munich to Madrid and then back to Munich” portion of the trip. We simply desired to move the date of our Munich to Boston return trip so that we would arrive home a few days earlier than previously planned.

That’s not so hard to understand is it?  Apparently it was. I was on the phone for an hour and a half trying to make this change. Several times, as I was put on hold the call was dropped. And…when I was finally able to request the change, the agent “helping” me was absolutely determined that this change of date required a necessary layover. And…this layover was to be in HONG KONG! Untitled design

I explained to this agent again and again that the route she was demanding made no sense, given the way the world was put together. I even told her (looking at the company’s web site) that there was nothing on this route remotely resembling her stated necessity. The route did not exist.

She was not moved. She repeatedly stated that an earlier flight back to Boston from Munich was not possible without a layover in Hong Kong…and an additional $11,000.

I wondered if she was also going to suggest that I reserve an oceanfront hotel in Iowa. I would not have been surprised. I told you the company’s name was not “Competent”.

Sigh.

Realizing that this conversation with the agent was going to go nowhere (except Hong Kong) I decided it would be better to initiate this change once we got to Germany. Honestly, I was afraid that if I kept speaking with her our entire flight would be in jeopardy.

Fortunately, upon arrival in Munich the change process was seamless. Our flight was moved up three days and was direct—without a stop in China!

As I recounted this little exchange with the travel agent I had to laugh as I realized this situation was all too analogous to my life. (To be honest, I’ve cried more than laughed so it was nice to laugh.) Lately, I have felt that numerous situations in life have been rerouted against my wishes—and I’ve often felt that the rerouting has not made sense. In my mind there is a simple and direct route to my life’s “destinations”…and then someone says I must layover in China? Really?

The layover is not efficient, sensible or even fathomable to my imagination.

While I did have the choice to decline the proposed airline route with the layover in Hong Kong, I can’t always refuse to go places life takes me. Sometimes the routes of our lives travel in directions we don’t want to go and which don’t make sense to us. They may involve layovers we neither want nor expect and cost more than we desire to pay. With each “change in reservations” life hands me, I must trust that God knows what he is doing and that I am safe in his care. I really am.  And he really does care.

And, I must remember that I always have a choice in how I respond to the rerouting. God is a really good travel agent. In fact, he is a perfect travel agent. He sees things I can’t see, and often “allows” me to go places I don’t wish to go. He also keeps me from places I intended to go when they aren’t best for me.

I am sure of these two things, though I must at times remind myself:

God is better at directing my life than I am.

God always acts in love, because that is who he is.

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD‘s purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21  

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.
Proverbs 16:9

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:8-9 

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:16-18 

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:28-31 

Who’s the Boss?

Recounting a recent conversation between my daughter and my nearly three-year-old granddaughter, I was reminded of the struggle it can be to let go of control in our lives.  (Disclaimer:  Gracie is as joyful and sweet as they come…but the inner struggle occasionally gets the best of all of us, whether we are two or ninety-two years old.) IMG_1286

K:  Gracie, you haven’t been potty since this morning. You’ve had a lot to drink and you need to go potty before you take your nap.

G:   I don’t need to go.

K:  Yes, you need to go.

G:  No, I’m not going potty. I can hold it.

K:  You will try before you go to bed.  Gracie, you are not going to win.  I’m going to win.  You might as  well go potty now.

G:  No, I will win.  I’m the boss.

K: (With eyes bulging and praying to keep her cool amidst the sassiness)  What?!  You are not the boss.  And you will go to the potty now or be disciplined!

G:  (Knowing discipline is eminent) I’m going potty!  You and daddy are the boss!  You and daddy are the boss!

Sounds rather two-year-oldish, right?  Well, I can certainly relate to the struggle.  I can struggle with letting God be in control (as if I could possibly be in control of God, anyway).  I can think I must figure it out, work it out…anything but faithfully waiting and trusting. I am reminded of the discourse between God and Job.  After God questions Job (on who is in control) Job replies:

  Then Job replied to the LORD: “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.  You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’  My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.  Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:1-6

It’s not hard to see the fight for control in a two year old.  It can be more difficult to see it in ourselves.  So, what do your struggles for control look like?  Here are some of mine.

It’s all too easy when my husband has neuropathy and doctors can’t yet find out why… to spend more time on Google than on my knees.  The struggle (not in my mind but in my actions) comes with my desire to fix things…thus becoming more self-reliant than God-reliant.

It can be an inner struggle for me to trust that God is always out for my good.  Instead I can dwell in fear.  I can take most anything and find a way to worry about it.  When I do this, I am taking control of my life and plans, rather than entrusting them to my Father, who loves me so much he eagerly hears me, watches over me, sings to me, and allowed his only son to die for me.

I can feel a struggle for control when I feel anxious and repeat conversations in my head after someone hurts my feelings or something isn’t fair…somehow thinking it will be better staying in my mind than releasing it from my grasp and giving it to God…fasting and praying that God will move in the situation and help all of us learn things we need to learn.

It can be a struggle to let go of control and say “I’m sorry” when I feel like someone else has “more to be sorry for,” as if my doing the right and humble thing would somehow make matters worse.

When my plans for my life get disrupted and God has other (or divergent) plans I can say (in grown up words)…”I’m not going potty.  I don’t need to.”

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:7-8, 10

However, when I pray and read and meditate on God’s truth, it’s much easier to say, “I’m going potty. You are the boss.”  And truthfully, that’s a really good thing. The result of my granddaughter’s trust and obedience made her feel better, left her kidneys healthier, and saved the sheets from a wash.   Likewise, as I let God “take the wheel” of control in my life…. I feel much better as peace and joy take over the place where stress and anxiety once resided.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)