The Best Laid Plans…

After securing an untold number of subs over my five years as HOS, yesterday was my turn to need one for my Sunday school class at Christ Community Church. Of course, as I was planning my Fall Break trip weeks ago, I thought, “I won’t need a sub for Sunday, Oct. 16, I have plenty of time to land at Sky Harbor and drive home to teach my 9 AM class.” Oh, am I glad that I didn’t follow that wishful thinking.

Linda and I had safe travels yesterday, but I am not sure we would call them good travels. The flight from Milwaukee to St. Louis was smooth and uneventful. Our flight departed at 4:05 PM so there was no rush getting to the airport and returning our rental car. Easy peasey.

We had a one-hour layover in St. Louis, which even allowed time for a quick bite to eat. We boarded on time at 5:50 and got settled in, only to have them announce that Sky Harbor had issued a stop traffic order due to extreme weather problems in the Phoenix area.

First, we were told it would be a one-hour delay. Then it became a two-hour delay and finally a three-hour delay. During this delay, the St. Louis airport shut down. All the restaurants were closed, all other flights had departed, and only ours remained. Finally, we were told to reboard and we flew to Phoenix.

Instead of landing at 7:40 PM, we landed after 10:40! Then the baggage claim was wild. Not only was our plane delayed, but at least a dozen or two dozen flights had been delayed and now all of the luggage from those flights was inundating the baggage carousels. All the carousels were being used at once and hundreds of passengers were crowded together. “No worries,” I kept telling myself and my wife, “it’s just a matter of time until our bags pop out.”

If one was doing statistics, Linda and I fared pretty well. Two out of three of our bags came out pretty much right away. But, as the passengers from our flight started to leave after successfully retrieving their bags, it became clear that our third bag was lost!

We discovered a long, long line and thought that is where we had to go for lost bags. We got in a line that was barely moving. Only one agent was handling a line of at least 20-25 passengers! In chatting with our fellow sufferers after 40 minutes in the line that went nowhere, we then made a sad discovery. We were in the line for American Airlines rather than Southwest! Off we went to the other end of Sky Harbor’s baggage claim area. The good news there was that Southwest had four agents to process the line. We quickly found out that they had found our bag and quickly reclaimed it.

I will spare you any further details. Suffice it to say that we arrived home after 2:50 AM! There was no way I could have handled the Sunday school class! It was such a relief knowing that my sub had it covered!

I am the guy who sometimes plans without much margin. I can remember times in the past where I limped into a teaching or preaching responsibility rather than get myself a sub. I can also remember the mounting stress and anxiety as the clock ticked along unconcerned for my deadlines.

What are you like in these crunch situations? I wasn’t bad on Saturday night. Aside from feeling weary, I did not come unglued with Linda. But I wonder how my stress would have been and how hard I would have been to live with on the last leg of the journey if I had not given myself an out?

I am thankful that I listened to my wife and accepted the help of my friend so that I did not put myself in a high stress situation.

Another thing that helped was to keep reminding myself that I had virtually no control of the situation and that God had it all covered. In fact, He covered my needs weeks ago when my friend agreed to sub in my class and I humbly agreed to his assistance. We all need this kind of help. Why?

Because the best laid plans of mice and men are soon gone awry. (“To a Mouse” by Robert Burns) It is best for us to train our children in this reality. Let’s teach them to leave room for error, plan for the inevitable problem for we live in a fallen world. Once humans lived in Paradise, but now our journey is through a world damaged by sin, and that damage is seen in everything we try to do. Knowing this reality can help to lift our stress caused from wrong expectations.

Yours in this journey, Christopher

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