Sunday, December 4th, was an exciting day for me. And I learned something; again. It actually began about midnight Saturday when I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep worrying about how I’d make my flight home Sunday afternoon. I was at Young Life’s Trail West Family Camp in Buena Vista, Colorado, attending the Exploration (Calling Intensive) men’s retreat, and my last opportunity to get home to Midland from Denver was the 4:00 flight to Albuquerque. Otherwise I’d have to spend the night and wait until Monday.
I knew Sunday would be busy. But even more, I knew it would be important. My part in the retreat was to facilitate a group of men as we shared our life stories, dreams, desires, and goals. Sunday afternoon was the climactic session when we would give each other feedback on all we’d learned over the course of the retreat. It promised to be a deep moment, the time when God speaks into a man’s heart through the voices of other men. I knew I would rather miss my flight than shortchange that moment with the guys.
However, I also knew Cyndi was at home on Kevin-duty all by herself all weekend, which included, in addition to her busy schedule, taking 50 elementary school kids to run a 5K (she’d been training them for weeks); and then later, taking many of the same kids to the Midland Community Theater to see the Sound of Music on stage. On Sunday, she had a long church orchestra rehearsal and performance (she is the percussionist). I wanted to get home to stand beside her so she wouldn’t have to keep standing alone. And, to be honest, I wanted to get home to lie beside her because I was tired of sleeping alone. And on top of all that, I was full of new ideas and new stories and I couldn’t wait to tell them to Cyndi.
So I tossed and turned in my bed at Trail West for over an hour, worrying about the situation, until I remembered prayer. Who knew I could pray for peace and for solutions, even in the middle of the night?
So I began to pray: “Lord I need Your peace, and I need Your insight to know how to do tomorrow, and I need Your help getting back to sleep so I can be effective on Sunday.” I settled almost immediately. I didn’t have any new ideas or revelations, but a calm peace that if I missed my flight Sunday night I would simply spend another night in Denver and use the solitude to rehash and record and confirm all I’d been learning at the retreat. There was value in that. And if I miraculously made my flight, well, all the better.
Sunday morning I mentioned my dilemma to my guys and they stepped up to help. We completed our feedback sessions, working straight through the breaks, not rushing the moment or shortchanging any discussions … but no lollygagging, either. We took some time for brunch, then finished up so that I was able to leave at noon. They are great guys and I am blessed to know them. All four of us left the camp with affirmations of God’s call on our life, as well as challenges for moving forward into the next adventures. I drove away knowing it had been a successful weekend.
But, I drove quickly. While I was at peace in my heart either way, whether I’d make the flight or miss the flight, I wanted to get home. I prayed: “God, help me make this happen.” And I hurried as much possible. I wanted to do my bit and give God a decent chance to get me on the plane. I considered praying for a flight delay to give more cushion, but I decided that was a selfish prayer since everyone else on the plane had somewhere important to go. (I still don’t know what to think about prayers like that; is it OK to pray that someone else will be delayed so I can make a connection?)
I drove up Highway 285 toward Denver slightly over the speed limit, yet slow enough for this Texas boy to feel safe in the snowy mountains. I passed car after car with freshly-cut Christmas trees strapped to the top. And I listened to Rob Bell preach about peace on my iPod. It was a beautiful and glorious drive.
I drove straight without stopping until I got to the airport gas station, where I topped out my rental Jeep. I turned it in at 3:10 PM. There was no time to spare. I rode the shuttle bus (which drove way too slow and took way too many stops), raced up to the Southwest counter and checked my bag and printed my boarding pass at 3:30 PM.
I pushed through airport security, taking the shortest line I saw, which was shortest because it led to the full-body scan machine. I was in a hurry, had nothing to hide, so scan away. Curiously the scan hit on a suspicious blotch on my back, so the TSA gentleman asked if he could pat down my back. Sure. He was sorry. The machine had tagged a big wet sweaty spot between my shoulder blades, the result of running through the airport with my coat on.
I trotted up to the train that links the main terminal with the flight gates, and of course it took forever to arrive, but I was surprisingly calm. (I realize that from the outside I always appear to be calm, but trust me, on the inside of my skin, where I live, I’m often wound up tight, continually analyzing the situation. Not this time. My midnight prayers were still working.)
I rode the train and hit Concourse C at a fast trot. Of course the people-mover sidewalk was out of order, but I ran down it anyway because who knew that God wouldn’t suddenly start it back up. As my gate came into view I heard over the public address system, “Paging Southwest passenger Berry Simpson, this is your last call.” Good thing I had been attending A CALLING RETREAT; I was ready for my last call! I did a face-first slide into the gate while holding my boarding pass aloft and made it just in time. My baseball-playing son-in-law would have been proud.
And the next thing I knew, I was in my seat texting Cyndi: “I made my plane.”
I was glad I made it, but even happier at the lesson of the day – there is no use fretting over what I cannot change.
In this busy holiday season we always have too much to do, and are often delayed or stopped, missing important connections. But if the peace of God is real, we have to learn to settle in to it and trust Him to get us to the most important things. And trust what happens next.
Of course, being in God’s peace does not mean we should saunter down the jet way. Running is still allowed.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32
To learn about Berry’s books, “Running With God,” go to www.runningwithgodonline.com , or “Retreating With God,” go to www.retreatingwithgod.com ,… Follow Berry on Twitter at @berrysimpson or on Facebook … Contact Berry directly: firstname.lastname@example.org … To post a comment or subscribe to this free journal: www.journalentries.org