On Friday I received a text message from the airline. Glancing at my phone I discovered I had been assigned a new seat due to an aircraft swap. That’s fine, I thought to myself. When I arrived at the airport I received another text message from the airline letting me know my plane had been delayed. Rather than the 12:50 p.m. departure it would now depart at 1:50 p.m. After letting my daughter know of the delay, I checked in. Passing through all of the security procedures, without incident, I hopped on the shuttle and made my way to gate A1e. Pulling my book from my bag, I settled into a chair in the corner and began my wait. An announcement was made, another text received, informing travelers the flight would now leave at 1:30 p.m., arriving at 2:52 p.m. I sent the update to my daughter, who was trying to make her plan for the almost two-hour drive. She had already left to run errands on the way—but with a five and three-year-old—her hang-out time would be limited.
It wasn’t long before another update arrived: departure again at 1:50 with a 3:12 p.m. arrival. This would continue for the next two-or-more hours. The next update was departure at 2:15 p.m. with arrival at 3:37 p.m. and then another update: 4:45 p.m. departure with a 6:07 p.m. arrival. I called my daughter, offering this advice; “Don’t leave home until I know for sure this plane is actually going to leave with me on it today.” I was beginning to lose hope it would.
Around 2:00 p.m. another update came with news our gate had been changed. Everyone waiting for the flight to Rochester would need to gather their things and make their way down to gate A5e. I was thankful my Fitbit had been fully charged. I did feel for the poor aides traveling with the elderly woman who was suffering from what appeared to be dementia. It was a very long day for them and their dog. Another update brought hope of a 4:15 p.m. departure and 5:37 p.m. arrival, but that was short-lived by an announcement they had made a mistake. We would actually depart at 4:50 p.m. and arrive in Rochester at 6:12 p.m. Finally, there was hope. But sitting next to a new friend, we felt it was best to take the wait-and-see approach. When we were actually on the plane rolling down the runway, we would believe it.
Patience became more difficult with every delay, not just for me, but for everyone inconvenienced by the delay. Plans had been interrupted, connecting flights missed, and no one had clear understanding as to why. First we were told the reason for the delay was due to operations. Then we were told weather was the cause, which seemed impossible since it was forty degrees in Rochester. Finally, after hours of waiting I discovered the truth: The crew and the airplane were in different places and we were waiting for each to arrive. Apparently we couldn’t leave without a plane and the plane couldn’t fly without the crew. It all made sense now.
Well, the crew and plane finally arrived and once the plane was serviced we were boarded and on our way to Rochester. Sarah arrived at the airport at just the right time after a day of uncertainty for her as to when she should leave. I finally made it home, more tired and much later than I had expected, but I was home.
Now, I won’t try and speak for you, but I know for myself, I struggle with patience. I’ve struggled with it my entire life. I’ve grown frustrated with any timetable that didn’t match my expectations. It didn’t matter if it was with my kids, my husband, family, friends, myself, or God, If I was waiting longer than I wanted, I was usually frustrated. I probably wouldn’t have lasted those forty years in the wilderness with the Israelites. And how about all those years of silence when God hadn’t been heard from for years? From the prophecies of Isaiah, which foretold of Jesus’ coming, they waited a long time for it to happen. Delays make me want to stand up and yell, “Why? What is taking so long?”
- A delay can bring disappointment. Everyone on the flight had phone calls to make and schedules to rearrange, each disappointed when plans fell through. While there had been a big mess-up, the airline was working to get the crew, and the plane, in the same place at the same time. I am often disappointed when my plans don’t work out as I had hoped, many times forgetting God is behind the scenes, quietly working on my behalf. He needs to get all the pieces to our life puzzle connected in the right place at just the right time. I often forget this requires obedience for all involved.
- A delay can lead to doubt. I felt the seed of doubt growing within me with each passing update. The reason? Every announcement felt like an excuse and I became less confident I was hearing truth. This led me to begin to lose faith in this airline. Ever lose faith in someone because they consistently failed to keep their word? Seeds of doubt can easily take root when our expectations are unmet—causing us to lose faith—tempting us to rush to make decisions.
- A delay is not a denial. With every update of delay I began to wonder if I would eventually be told there would be no flight to Rochester that night. I began to form a plan, and prepare myself, if that happened. I wondered how long I should wait before putting the next steps into motion. I’ve done the same while waiting on God to move. The longer the delay, the easier it becomes to assume God’s answer is no. After all, how long should one wait for God to answer a prayer?
- A delay can determine destiny. As I waited I was reminded of Joseph. He had two dreams that put him in the pit at the hands of his brothers. Then, thanks to Potiphar’s wife, he found himself in prison. Years later he would find himself within Pharaoh’s palace, overseeing all the land of Egypt (Genesis 41). Seemingly forgotten while in prison, the delay would ensure Joseph was right where he needed to be when a famine in all the land would bring his brothers and father to him seeking food. But God was seeking something more in all of the delays. He was working all things in Joseph’s life together for the good of his family (Romans 8:28).
Do you find yourself sitting? Waiting during a delay? We find ourselves waiting in prayer for:
- couples longing to hold a baby in their arms
- reconciliation of broken marriages/relationships
- a good-report from the Doctor
- someone needing employment
- a loved-one bound by drug addiction
- healing for those devastated by loss
- the prodigal to return
So many delays with so many occasions to lose hope but One reason not to: God. Remember a delay is not a denial it simply provides us the opportunity to allow God to work in His way, in His time, and for that, we must learn to trust.
“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”(2 Peter 3:8-9, NIV).
Be Confident in His plan.
Praying 2017 brings answers to some of our delays.