Saturday, January 7, 2017

Right on Time

The plane sat just feet away from the gate, snow flying and de-ice machines roaring. We were already thirty minutes behind schedule and I was convinced I would never make my connecting flight. Minutes ticked by but they felt like hours. I kept checking my clock. If I were a nail bitter I would have been chewing with a fury of anxiety.
Finally the plane began to move. It slowly made its way onto the runway, into the abyss of a Northeastern frozen tundra. To take off in this blizzard would be a feat of pilot-prize winning proportions. To make it to Chicago on time to catch my next flight would be a miracle of God.
The plane paused at the edge of the runway and, with a familiar buzzing from the propellers, began to pick up speed as it charged down the plowed pavement. With smooth precision the wheels left the ground and the plane went soaring into snowflakes. One anxiety was put to rest – take off – but another still lingered – being stuck in Chicago. With a quick connection I resigned myself to hours spent in the human equivalent to a cow stall.
An hour into the flight I pulled out my boarding passes to check times, gates and terminals. I’d have to run from one terminal to another and, judging by the time on my clock, I wouldn’t make it. Boarding would end at 7:30 while my clock was already reading 7:15 and the captain hadn’t even turned on the fasten seat belt sign yet. I began to play out various scenarios in my head... Maybe the next flight will be delayed.... Maybe another flight will be set to depart in an hour with one first class seat available, no extra charge (and yes, please, I would like a pillow and the complimentary head phones.)
But then I thought about the other scenarios – the worst-case scenarios... What if the flight isn’t delayed and there isn’t another flight going out for five hours? What if the flight in five hours is full, not even a seat in coach near the bathroom available? What if the weather in Chicago turns terribly, horribly bad and every flight is grounded…indefinitely?
For the next twenty minutes my mind did a stellar job of coming up with circumstances that went from bad to worse to terrible. My anxiety mounted with each mile traveled. I was certain that I would be stranded in Chicago. When I watched my clock tick past boarding time and then take off time I resigned myself to my fate. This trip wasn’t going to go as planned.
Twenty-seven minutes behind schedule the small twin-engine plane landed in Chicago. The crew instructed those of us with quick connections to de-plane first. Even though I was sure I had missed my connection I ran off as fast as I could on the slim chance that my next flight was incurring a slight delay. Maybe they were even waiting for me - hey, crazier things have happened!
And so I started high tailing across the terminal. I moved as fast as my little feet could take me across the moving escalator, apologizing profusely to the many travelers I bumped along the way. Up the stairs and to the right I ran down concourse C to the end of the hall. And that’s when I saw it. A massive line outside gate C30 - my gate. 
Over the loud speakers I heard an attendant call out, “Zone 3, United flight 1330 with service to Ft. Myers now welcoming all passengers in Zone 3.” Me! My zone! I wanted to scream it out and run to the front of the line! Had God just delayed my flight? Was the plane waiting for me?
Nope. There was no delay.
But there was a time change.
As I had fretted on my first flight, convinced I wouldn’t make it to gate C30 by the time stamped on my boarding pass, I had forgotten about the time change. Chicago is in the central time zone, an hour ahead, while my boarding pass reflected the eastern time zone. Turns out, I had never been late at all. In fact, with the first flight's slight delay in take off, I ended up being precisely on time for my connection. Not a minute too early. Not a moment too late.
When I paused at the gate to look at the board and the clock the pieces of my jumbled up puzzle began to make sense and I couldn’t help but chuckle. How silly I had been to worry. How much energy I had expended on needless anxieties! The timing worked out perfectly, even sparing me a few extra few minutes to grab a cup of coffee.
I took my seat with a renewed calm and a much-needed reminder: God has my time in His hands. I never need to worry or fret or spend one moment wrought with anxiety because God has my connections perfectly planned. Some days I am convinced that my take-offs and landings are running late. Really, all I need to do is readjust my clock and check my time zones because God’s timing is never off. The schedule is always under His control, unfolding according to His perfect plan.
Worrying about making my connecting flight couldn’t speed up the plane or delay the boarding procedure at gate C30 any more than worrying can or will change God’s timing. But the good news is I have no need to worry. God is master of the clock and setter of the schedule. I may not understand it but, let’s face it, I get confused about time zones so who am I to judge God’s perfect timing?
In the end, leaving the take-offs and landings to God will always work out best because He has the agenda confirmed and my seat on His every plane assigned. I won’t miss a single one of His connections when I entrust my plans and their timing to His care. 
God always get me where He wants me right on time. 

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