On my way to the airport this morning, I snapped the above shot of the incredible sunrise. After I had taken the photo, I glanced at its image in my phone and could not help but see the giant heart glowing back at me. I interpreted it as a sign that everything would go as planned today. That I would make my flight (I had more than enough time to make it on any other day...except for today), that the Lord would give me words to speak truth and love to the women at The Gospel Coalition, that the Spirit would move mightily despite me, and that I would get to spend time with women I know and love, and women I don't know yet but still love.
The Lord had a different plan.
This glowing heart in the sky was a reminder that because I am His, everything works out for my good and His glory--that instead of my talking about His being the stability of our times, He proved Himself to be just that.
As I walked into the terminal, I knew it would take an act of God to get me to my flight on time. But, He is that kind of God. He can do the impossible. A line full of families with Mickey-eared children and couples dressed for beachy weather snaked past security, in front of the ticket agents and down the hall to baggage claim. No worries, I had plenty of time--a full hour. This just meant I'd have to make due with airplane coffee rather than Starbucks. The digits on my phone kept creeping closer and closer to boarding time. Once that time passed and I was still in line, I became a bit more nervous. Just as I made it through security with 2 minutes to spare before take-off, I was informed that they had given my seat away.
I would love to say that I rejoiced in God's sovereignty and that it would all work out for my joy and His glory. But, to be honest, I felt kicked in the gut. Tears brimmed. I thought, Lord, I know You are sovereign. I know You are good. I know this is part of Your plan, but I am struggling to understand it.
The gate agents did what they could to get me on another flight. They handed me a voucher to put me on stand-by for the next flight and encouraged me to grab a coffee and breathe. I followed their instructions. However, when I got to the next flight's gate, my name kept inching lower and lower on the stand-by list. I was then informed that all the flights from Dallas to Orlando were oversold.
I lost it.
I could no longer contain the tears! I felt so burdened for the women at TGC and burdened with this message--that He would be the stability of our times, an abundance of salvation, wisdom and knowledge. I was a blubbering mess right there at gate C36 at the DFW airport.
The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps.
A sweet voice broke the onslaught of "what if I had..."s and "if only..."s that were bombarding my mind. Are you okay?, she asked. Through sniffles and breath-gathering pauses, I related my story to this precious woman. I even unpacked what I'd prepared to share at the workshop with her. I told her how the Lord had proven to be the stability of my times through Matt's brain tumor diagnosis and the uncertainty that comes with that, and what I felt like the Lord showed me about Himself through it.
Her response was staggering.
She felt like the Lord had purposed us to meet, and for me to share my story with her. It became apparent that the Lord was pursuing her. She knows Him, but the Lord was inviting her to return to Him.
Once it became apparent that I would not make any flight to Orlando today, I exchanged cell numbers with her. She texted this to me a few hours later:
I got confirmed on a flight leaving at 3:30 today. Only seat open until tomorrow. I was just sitting here reflecting on our encounter and I have no doubts that your preparation for your testimony and talk on suffering was not wasted. I'm sorry that the women in Florida did not get to hear you speak, but I feel as though my heart heard something it needed to hear and I'm glad we were able to have the time to talk. We have an AWESOME God!
I thought I knew what that big heart in the sky meant, but the Lord showed me something better. He showed me how intimately He loves us. He showed me that He personally knows what each of us is going through and has gone through. He showed me that He enters in! He orchestrates and establishes the most intricate of details! He showed me that all other props--a flight schedule, a security line, a healthy husband, my plan for my life--cannot truly sustain. Only He is unshakeable. Only He can be the stability of our times.
For all you precious, precious women at The Gospel Coalition's Women's Conference, please know that I am praying for you. More than good doctrine (though it is important!), I pray you get more of JESUS this weekend, in whatever form He may present Himself---in the expected and the unexpected. I pray I get another chance to share with you, some way, some how.