The day started with much excitement, and nothing could curtail my enthusiasm or optimism. You see, it was the day, just a month ago, that I was able to meet my twin brother’s daughter, my new niece, Faith. I was taking my eight and five year old on the trip from Dallas to New Jersey and in their eyes it was like we were going on an African Safari. Needless to say they were excited!
Surprisingly, the morning started well at 3:30 am. My daughters were excited and even at that ridiculous hour they could not stop talking. They talked from the moment I pulled them out of their beds until the plane was in the air. They slowly settled in and sleepy, grumpy, attitudes began to prevail. It never totally got out of hand – yes there were a few arguments over spit fingers, sharing crayons, and lack of things to do on the plane, but overall I was pleased. That is until we heard the captain come on the intercom and tell us that we were landing 35 minutes late.
It was at that point that I started to doubt God’s plan for our lives for this particular day! We only had 33 minutes from when our wheels touched down until our next flight took off. Having flown more than a million miles, I knew that in Detroit, a turnaround and terminal transfer like that was near impossible!
I settled in my mind before we landed that I would not get frustrated, hotheaded or anxious. I also decided that I would not run like a lunatic through the airport dragging my children behind me.
Upon landing, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. First of all, we were situated near the back of the plane, so de-boarding took no less than ten minutes. Once we got off, we waited for an additional four minutes for my bag that I was forced to check at the gate because of overhead space issues. When we finally walked off the bridge and looked at the departure/arrival board, we had 13 minutes before our connection was scheduled to leave the runway from a different terminal. I figured they would close the door at least five minutes before that, so DEFEAT HAD SET IN.
I was already preparing my daughters, and in my dignified, adult way I was sharing with them about how things don’t always go our way. I was thinking of secondary options and had given up on making the flight. In my mind I was handling things maturely. I was proud of myself, almost self-righteous, that I wasn’t storming the terminal upset because our plans would be altered.
That is when God spoke to me. Literally, he spoke to me through my eight year old! I started to walk slowly in defeat towards the gate, expecting to meet an empty gate and a closed door. I figured we would be making new plans with a gate agent and had resolved to give up.
As I was pouting, I looked up and saw my eight year old sprinting away from me towards the first of a long series of the “people mover” belts found in most large airports. Annoyed, I yelled something like “Alena! Slow do…..!!” Before I could finish my statement she yelled back at me in excitement:
“Daddy, don’t doubt yourself! We can do it!”
It is funny now. Thinking back to that moment, I can’t say that I even believed her cognitively, but her shear determination and the confidence that she exuded through her body language and her voice gave me a glimmer of hope and enough motivation to pick up my pace.
She led our pack, running the entire way dragging her roller bag. At times she’d throw it on her back so she could put some extra hustle in. My five year old kept pace and never faltered. My daughter’s courage and drive carried me the entire way when I wanted to throw in the towel and just make other plans.
We boarded that plane seconds before they closed the door, and I was immediately very emotional. I was proud of my daughter who showed me real courage and strength in the face of a large challenge. I was embarrassed that it took an eight year old to lead me into my destiny for that day, when I was ready to accept something less than the best. And ultimately I was grateful for the lesson that resolving to be patient and levelheaded should not translate to giving less than your all, no matter how insignificant the task.
How many of us have missed our purpose, our opportunity, or our joy, by simply making an excuse to not put in work? How many times could the results have been different had we resolved to give our all? How many of us are grateful that we have a leader, Jesus, who is always there to take the lead, to tell us we can do it, and not to doubt…?
What’s your story?