When I was in the darkness of my struggle, I didn’t want to talk about it, but now that the light is on, I can.
To make a long story short: no show, no go.
And now the full version:
Act I: A Revelation of Time
My wife and I had an early flight to catch from Berlin, which is about a two-hour bus ride from my home city of Dresden. We planned everything meticulously and went to sleep knowing that we were in complete control of the situation. Surely, all would be well.
When we got to the bus stop to catch our 4:50 a.m. ride, which was the first leg of our journey, we wondered why it hadn’t come yet. Checking the time, we discovered that we had missed the first bus, which meant we would miss our train, which meant we would miss our flight! How could this have possibly happened?!
Tracing our steps back, we realized that the previous evening the battery in our clock had come loose, and when it was put back in place, the clock was running 30 minutes late! We had trusted in that clock and hadn’t bothered to double-check it with other timepieces.
Act II: The Unraveling
Sorry to say, it was then that I felt like shaking my fist at the heavens and crying out in my despair: My God, my God, why have You forsaken us? We prayed and prayed for everything to go smoothly, and then a stupid mistake causes all of our plans to crumble into dust…!
It’s funny how at times like these we sometimes gloss over our mistakes and start blaming God or others for dealing us bad cards.
After the despair, my cool-thinking mode kicked in and I tried to salvage the situation. It was soon apparent that it would not be a walk in the park.
When you fail and fall like this, it’s easy to just want to give up, but that was not an option, considering the consequences that would follow. One cannot lie face down in the mud for too long, or as Dr. Seuss so aptly put it:
I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
can happen to you.
You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.
You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.
And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
is not easily done.1
Act III: Deliverance
Trying to communicate with a behemoth airline in the midst of a global pandemic is like trying to give a speech in the middle of Mumbai rush-hour traffic. Our flight’s scheduled departure time came and went, and after trying every key at the lock and failing, my last resort was to try to call their help line one last time. I was put on hold yet again, and I feared I was headed back toward a most useless place—“the waiting place.” But after waiting more than half an hour, someone answered. Glory!
After explaining our situation, we were hit with another blow: we found out that their policy is that if you miss the outgoing flight, the return flight is also canceled. Meaning we would lose the whole ticket and would have to buy new ones in the middle of peak season to the tune of a loss of 2,000 euros. “Unless … you have some proof that you tried to cancel your ticket before the flight.”
It just so happens that in the middle of all our attempts, I had sent a WhatsApp message that was dated a few hours before takeoff. We sent a screenshot, and it was approved. And after another half an hour of brainstorming with the service call center representative, we had our new tickets for a later flight at no extra charge!
After all was said and done, I thought to look at my phone to see the balance of prepaid time: 69 cents remaining! Imagine if my prepaid balance had run out in the middle of that marathon call! I would have had to start the whole process over again. God is in the details, and I was reminded of how the Bible is full of stories of events hinging on little things and little people—multitudes are fed from a few loaves and fishes, a shepherd boy becomes a king, a giant is slain with one smooth stone, the Red Sea is parted using a lifted-up stick, the Savior of the world is born in a stable, for example.
This experience helped me to realize that even when we get it wrong and make serious blunders, our amazing God is always with us and He can even overwrite our human error to work things for good in our lives.
- Oh, the Places You’ll Go (1990), Dr. Seuss’ last book before he passed away.