"It doesn't matter what happens next, it's not going to bother me."
I confidently exercised my faith aloud to the disbelieving passenger next to me. He snorted, as though he understood something I didn't.
"We'll see about that."
My husband and I'd been up since three in the morning to catch three different planes which would eventually land us back into the arms of our three waiting children. And they'd been waiting more than a couple of weeks for our return from the mission field.
But as God had arranged it, our second flight was delayed at take-off—delayed by more than an hour—and the likelihood of us making our last connection had nothing to do with the concept of being "likely" at all.
Despite the groans and sighs coming from the surrounding seats—including the one just next to me—I was determined to stay faithful. I would not to be shaken by the situation. I knew that this was out of my control. And what's out of my control is squarely in the control of the One I trust most. So I grinned a secret grin, trusting that God had my day mapped out.
I reflected how, over the past several months of ministry and service, God had really been teaching me about listening, exercising faith, and walking in obedience. In fact, I was delighted to be tested in such a way. And despite the fact we hadn't physically departed, felt a sense of spiritual "arrival." I relished the sense that maybe, just maybe, I was getting the hang of this faith-thing.
After more than an hour, our plane finally found its way into the sky, and we were soon settling into the next airport. Despite our late arrival, I knew God would work everything out accordingly, and that my faith would shine as a stellar beacon in the dark and disbelieving mind of my spouse.
Getting off the plane, we were directed to the service desk. And while we were waiting I could hear the attendants helping the customers in front of us…helping them find hotels for the evening and new flights in the morning. But that just wasn't the help I was looking for. So while I waited, I started praying my big-faith prayers.
God, make a way that only you can make. God, do a miracle right here! God, show up big-time; I'm waiting!
I shut my eyes while I prayed, and I didn't care who watched. I was mustering faith; I was scraping it from deep within. But it wasn't that far of a reach; my faith was shallow. And where it ended, I hit into something else hidden just below: some ugly pride. Dressed in my faith-filled prayers, thoughts like these were swirling around: let my faith-talk be justified here. Let me have the satisfaction of knowing I was right, that you'd work everything out the way I thought you would. Please don't embarrass me in front of my husband!
But he didn't need to embarrass me; I can do that myself. At the service desk, my calm exterior greeted the attendant. Her calm exterior met mine as she explained our situation in words I didn't want to hear. My less-than-dainty anger met her still calm exterior. These were followed by a flood of tears—all of which landed on her still…calm…exterior. No matter what I said, or did, I was going no where. I was being…grounded.
I had heard Jennifer Rothschild say this just a few days before: Faith grounds you. So when you get that feeling—-that "I'm flying so high" kind of attitude—you can bet you're headed for a grounding.
And there I was. Grounded. Embarrassed. Confused.
I don't know how she remained so calm. Or better—how Steve did. He'd agreed to let me do the talking (and yelling and crying), probably to reassure me that, indeed, I'd tried everything. When it was over, I kept over looking at him; I searched his face. Searched for something smug; a belittling glint in the eye. But it wasn't to be found. He let me be myself, and when I'd barked and cried out the last of my frustrations, he took my hand and headed to our hotel. He even bought me dinner.
Days later, I still searched for the meaning of it all. Why did God keep us from our kids another day? Why this end to a great trip? Why did everything start so smooth end so rough? Maybe there was some danger God was preventing. That's it! Maybe some catastrophic, life-threatening barrier stood in the way, and God redirected us around it. And someday, when I get to heaven, I'll understand God's detour that day.
Or maybe I don't have to wait that long.
How does your faith "ground" you? How does it keep you from thinking more highly of yourself than you ought to? And how does it keep you focused on God in the midst of your circumstances?