“When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.” –Ecclesiastes 7:14
I don’t think anything tests my trust issues more than traveling by airplane. It’s not that I don’t enjoy flying; even turbulence usually feels more like fun than fear. My problem is trusting the airplane to take off and land when and where it’s supposed to. (And for the record, I have much experience with airplanes not taking off or landing when they’re supposed to and even with them landing where they’re not supposed to. Seeing Welcome to New York when you expect to be walking off the plane into Boston is a memorable experience.)
So I knew before we left for it that our recent trip to Northern California would provide an exercise in trust. Thankfully, our flights were great! No problems other than turbulence going over the Rockies. We were so excited when our plane touched down on time in San Francisco on Christmas morning. Only a three hour drive separated us from our loved ones . . . or so we thought.
Then we got to the rental car counter. Though we had reserved a car well in advance, the company we were counting on did not have one available for us—or for many other families beginning to gather rather grumpily. (If they could have found pitchforks, they would have used them. I have no doubt.) Things got worse when people started figuring out that none of the rental car companies on-site at the airport had any cars available for anyone. We’d all made reservations, but the companies failed to provide what they’d promised. I don’t know how many families were stranded at the San Francisco Airport on Christmas Day by rental car renege, but it was not pretty.
Thankfully, my husband found an off-site rental car company that claimed to still have cars available. We hopped on their shuttle with three other families, and prayed they’d really have cars for us all.
This is where the trust lesson comes in. They had said they had cars, but so had the company we’d made reservations with. My mind went into overdrive imagining all that could go wrong. Not only were we alone in a city where we didn’t know anyone, we were also leaving the place (the airport) I held responsible to fix our plight. What if this new company didn’t have any cars? What if their shuttle wouldn’t take us back to the airport? What if all the hotels in the city were booked, too? What if we had to spend the night in a strange rental car company waiting room with only stale coffee creamer for food?
God stopped my thoughts right there. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t cause a wave of peace to gently swaddle my soul. No. He simply put an image of a map in my head, the kind that you might see on a hiking trail or in a mall directory. The clearest thing I saw was the red dot with an arrow saying, “You are here.”
And I understood! I wasn’t looking for a hotel or sleeping in a waiting room with nothing to eat. I was on a shuttle headed for hope! Even better, though I was stuck in the present moment, God was in my future—whatever it held.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” –Jeremiah 29:11
Suddenly, I was thankful. I was thankful for God’s presence and comfort, for my husband’s quick-thinking and resourcefulness, for a safe beginning to our journey, and for the possibility of a car to rent to take us on to our Christmas celebration with the family we’d traveled to see.
That picture stayed with me for the rest of the trip, too. Whenever we went somewhere new and scary or had to make a quick decision, I’d see that “You are here” sign. Then I’d remember God’s faithfulness, let go of worries about the future, and enjoy the day’s event.
Our rental car adventure ended well. The new company upgraded us to a Toyota Sienna mini-van on the other company’s dime. The extra space allowed us to shuttle everyone around in one car instead of us always needing to take two. Togetherness on a family vacation is a happy thing!
Even so, I knew (and I know) that even when I trust God, sometimes He allows things to go wrong. These things teach me to trust Him—no matter what. God loves me. God has a good plan for my life. God is building Christ’s character into me. I can trust Him all the time.
I am here. With Him. Right now.
That is very good.