I have traveled all over this country for the last three years using the pass of one of my friends, a former airline employee. Traveling overseas, however, during these last years has been impossible because traumas in our family life. Everything is free to us when we travel, except taxes. Since we must fly standby to use the pass, we also must deal with the uncertainty of whether we will get on the airplane that we choose. Consequently, overseas travel with these passes is still a mystery to me. So, for the trip to Bulgaria, I asked my friend if she could arrange it and then tutor me a little as to the vagaries of overseas trips.
Some of the overseas flights fly with empty First Class and Business Class seats, which employees can use, but I don’t know how to engineer that.
So my friend arranged the trip and sent back confirmation numbers along with a phone number for the airline customer service. This was totally out of my grid. I’m used to working with the employee website, which then emails me the confirmation with my flight number, and times of departure and arrival. I could feel the old familiar travel anxiety starting to stir—not knowing exactly where it is I am going or how I’m going to get there evokes insecurities.
So I did—I phoned Customer Service with the provided phone number and was led through a series of questions by a surprisingly efficient recorded messenger. However, being new to all this, I made the phone call six times, missing crucial points each time I listened.
When I wrote down the flight times, I realized that we only had one hour for transit between flights in Washington, D.C. before we caught the plane going to Frankfurt. Okay—now the travel anxiety was beginning to circle within, building toward a nor’easter blow kind of panic.
I attempted to call my friend, who is now retired and flies all over the world on her employee passes. I never know what country she will be visiting. No answer. I emailed her a couple times. No answer.
I compared flights on the airline’s main website. I would have preferred taking the 8:00 am flight out of Chicago—no matter that we would land in Dulles airport with six hours to wait and would have to leave the house at 5:30 a.m. I would prefer to wait around than have the panic of the rush to make a plane.
I went to bed early, but woke at 2:55 a.m. with this niggling at my mind. If we took a local flight and checked our bags in Chicago, wouldn’t we have to pick them up at baggage claim in D.C. and then check-in again at the international counter? Didn’t we need a couple hours interlude between coming and going to do all this? I’ve not flown into Dulles for years. Was there an international terminal like at O’Hare? Would we have to transit? What would happen if the weather systems delayed our departure?
I’m sure all those of you who have worry-specific episodes like this get the picture.
I calmed myself back to sleep, although I did go to my computer again for just a moment to check how many flights there were from Washington, D.C. to Frankfurt. (Our ultimate destination is Sofia, Bulgaria.) After restless sleep, by 5:30 a.m., the determined exercise of trust had brought me to some point of rationality.
First of all, wasn’t the Lord always attempting to teach me to trust in Him whenever I traveled. Who was my tour guide? Who was my travel agent? Who was my traveling companion? Who was my pilot (engineer, boat captain, trekking leader)? This seems to be one of those lessons I have to exercise again and again.
Secondly, wasn’t my friend who has made these passes available to us, and had actually arranged this trip, an experienced traveler? And, didn’t she know more about plotting these journeys than I could ever dream about?
And thirdly, didn’t I have some 22 friends (as of today 25 friends) praying for this journey? Did I believe in prayer or not? Did I trust that their prayers would impact our travel?
I deliberately chose to be calm and to bank the anxiety in the trust account.
Then, my mind began to clear. HAH! My friend knew that David and I could check our bags at the ticket counter in Chicago through to Frankfurt (actually, I discovered that we could send them all the way to Sofia). HAH! My friend knew there was a later flight we could catch if we missed the 5:15 p.m. flight. HAH! If we caught the 1:12 p.m. flight out of Chicago instead of the 8:20 a.m. flight, we wouldn’t have to leave for the airport until 10:00 a.m., giving us a whole five hours more to pack. In addition, our other friend who loves to drive us to and from the airport because it provides us with sharing time and who is done with her nanny job by 8:30 in the morning, could drop us off. Everything—everything began to fall into shape. I headed into this morning happy, relaxed, content, and without any feeling of panic.
Trusting God is just great in theory, it’s the practice of fleeing into trust when we’re traveling through life that’s much harder. Much harder. But this time, for this journey, for this day, I am at peace. Fare thee well. Fare thee very well.
Award-winning author Karen Mains has long had an interest in spiritual formation and the obedient Christian walk. She has written about the God Hunt in her book by the same name, The God Hunt: The Delightful Chase and the Wonder of Being Found. A hardback copy can be ordered from Mainstay Ministries for $10.00 plus $4.95 shipping and handling. Contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will be happy to autograph a copy for you.
Karen continues to write content for her Christian blog, “Thoughts-by-Karen-Mains.” In so doing, she desires to touch the lives of Christian women and men and help them find ways to walk closer with the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, through silent retreats, spiritual teaching, women’s retreats, Christian vacation opportunities, and other ministry activities, Karen helps each Christian woman and man receive vital spiritual food.
Through her Hungry Souls ministry, Karen serves as a spiritual coach to many Christian women and men, and teaches a mentor-writing class. And, through the Global Bag Project, she is working to develop a network of African women who sew exquisite cloth reusable shopping bags, Africa bags. This micro-finance women opportunity helps provide a much-needed sustainable income for struggling African families. For more information on this critically important project, please click here.
For decades, Karen and her husband, David, have served God through religious communications—radio, television, and print publication. They are the co-authors of the Kingdom Tales Trilogy: Tales of the Kingdom, Tales of the Resistance, and Tales of the Restoration. To find many valuable resources for pastors and congregations at the Mainstay Ministries main website, please click here.
Likewise, pastors will find special resources to help them prepare effective, life-transforming Sunday sermons by visiting David Mains’ website by clicking here.