It was a trip we would NEVER forget.
Being of Scottish decent, my wife had always dreamed of going to Scotland; and this year, we decided to make that dream a reality.
The first leg of our journey was spent in Belgium visiting with my ailing mother; and though we were sad to leave her behind, I could sense the excitement in my wife as we boarded the plane from Brussels to London. From London, we would take a plane into Scotland, and our magical trip would begin.
The only problem was, once we had all boarded in Brussels, the plane didn’t leave! After quite some time we were told that due to a severe thunderstorm in London, our flight would be delayed; but not to worry! The airline would help all of us with connecting flights to get to our final destinations.
We tried to not worry, but when we were two hours late taking off and were forced to circle Heathrow in the air several times before being allowed to land, and then we had to taxi around the airport several times before they found us a free gate, the worry crept in. By this time, it was at least two hours past when our connecting flight to Scotland was scheduled to depart…
We were, however, truly happy to be out of the plane from Brussels. We were hopeful that since all flights had been grounded, maybe our flight to Scotland was delayed as well. Unfortunately this was not to be. We were directed to go and stand in line where our flight would be rebooked.
The line was ominously long, the airport was crowded and noisy, and since it was full of other stranded passengers just like us, the level of tension was very high. But if this was where we were supposed to be, we were determined to make the best of it. Finally it was our turn at the wicket. How disappointed we were to find out we had been standing in the wrong line!
Soon we were in yet another, longer line. This line, as slow as it was, soon began to creep slower and slower as one after the other, agents closed their wickets and went home for the night. Soon there was only one agent left, and we still had at least two more parties of people in front of us before we would get to the front of the line. Would we get our turn before he closed as well?
There was one thing that made the wait in line much more pleasant. There were a group of Muslims immediately ahead of us, and we enjoyed the conversation we struck up with them. They were having the same difficulties we were having, but the man gave us a warm invitation to stay come and stay with them if we ever found ourselves in their hometown. That was so sweet, and it warmed our hearts and gave us the courage to persevere in that endlessly long line.
And then, the one remaining agent called up our friends. We were happy for them, but we could see that they were not receiving airline tickets. Rather, they were receiving emergency kits containing toiletries and an oversized t-shirt, along with hotel vouchers. And you can imagine our utter disillusionment when the agent closed his wicked immediately after serving these people… Now what? Would we have to sleep in the airport? Unfortunately, all the chairs seemed to be already taken…
We were very blessed when another, different agent came to us in line with emergency kits and a voucher for a room and for supper at one of the airport hotels. “I have just one room left,” he said as he handed us the items. “Have a good night on us!
You could ask, “Where was God in these troubles? Couldn’t He have timed the thunderstorm a bit differently? Couldn’t He had put us one more forward in line? Couldn’t He have…”
The answer to all of those questions is, “Yes! He could have!” But instead of doing any of those things, He chose to bless us in a different way. He chose to give us a luxury hotel and a gourmet dinner for the night. We had peace about this, for we knew that the God who could arrange us lodging and supper for the night could also make a way the following day to get us to Scotland so that we could catch up to our itinerary.
The next morning we returned to the airport to try and straighten out our flights to Scotland. Unfortunately, thousands of others did the same thing, and there was such a crowd that it was impossible to see any line at all. When the agents came and forced all of us into a line, we, because of our place in the crowd, would have been pushed to the very back, behind many who had come in after us. Imagine our surprise when God had yet another blessing in store for us! We looked up to see our Muslim friends from the previous day! They were in the newly-formed line, and they were waving furiously for us to come. When we did, they pushed us into line … ahead of them! what a blessing they were!
That line was also long and slow; however with our good friends behind us and a group of French people who also befriended us ahead of us, it was amazing how time flew… But it wasn’t until we learned that the French family had been forced to spend the night on airport chairs, that we truly began to count our blessings. If we had been any other place in that line the day before, we, too, would have had to sleep on the airport floor in London.
The Bible tells us this: “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deut. 31:8 NIV) No matter what problems you find yourself in, God is there! He will never forsake us! Our job is to watch for God’s hand of blessing. It will be there as well. Maybe it will be in the form of receiving the last vouchers for supper and hotel. Maybe it will be in the form of new friends. Or maybe it will be the peace that comes from putting our complete trust in God, even when times are hard. Just know that no matter what appears to be happening, God is still in control!
We would later learn that the thunderstorm that grounded so many flights and left so many thousands of people stranded had only lasted about 15 minutes…
In His love,
(To access the entire “Scotland!” devotional series, please click here.)