There was a knot in the pit of my stomach, and the night was falling quickly. At the same time yesterday I was already heading away from the Quito airport, for the first time in my life having erred on the date and had shown up for my flight a day early. My embarrassment was only equaled by my feeling of helplessness, not knowing where I would stay, and... night falling quickly.
Trust is a big issue for me, and I KNOW God is good. He's proven Himself over and over... and over. But still I doubt. Not that He wouldn't be good, but that I won't hear Him correctly or that maybe this time I've messed up once too much and He'll leave me to my own devices. Which would really stink, because my own devices are pretty flimsy... even though when I start to doubt, I still think I need to lean on those splintered sticks.
So yesterday, one day too early, and today... well. God had provided a place to stay at the HCJB guesthouse last night and I had been able to pick up the bag I had accidentally left at the first hostal I stayed in. My email was nicely being caught up, and amazing Lois Price had appeared at the guesthouse too, a retired nurse who still lives in the jungle of Ecuador and sweetly invited me tolunch with her. My afternoon plan was to grab some snacks for the airport, shower at 5 and run to the bus stop. Lois thought that would be a bit late for my 8pm flight, but I was sure it would be fine. “You're the expert!” Lois remarked after I told her of my dry run yesterday. However, I hadn't counted with the rain. And the rush hour traffick. At 5:30 I was standing in the rain with Lois holding an umbrella, and every taxi that passed was full. So we walked to the corner. And to the other corner. And down the block. By the time I grabbed a taxi and made it the half-mile to the bus station, it was almost 6pm. And the ride to the airport is over an hour. In rush hour traffic.
Sitting in the bus, waiting for it to fill up and seeing the sky darken... I started to get that knot in the pit of my stomach. What if one day I was WAY to early... and the other day I missed it altogether? That would also be a first. 6pm. 6:05. At 6:10 we left the station and crawwwlled out of the city. My Dad's advice as a TSA agent were ringing in my ears... “Always arrive too early, rather than too late!” So? I prayed. At first I prayed my mantra, “Father, please open the door so that I can go through.” Then I prayed, “God, please delay the flight coming into Quito from Guayaquil.” Then I realized how selfish and well... panicky I was feeling. So I started to pray “God, please help me glorify you no matter what happens.” And I started to pray for ANYone who came to mind. Alli Mellon. The persecuted church in North Korea (THAT will put one's momentary troubles in focus like nothing else!), I prayed for people in Nauta, for youth that had left Nauta to look for work,... and the knot remained. God's still small voice broke through as I squirmed... “Do you trust me, Crystal? Do you trust me?”
Yes. No. Yes. No. “Yes” as I focused on my knowledge of God's faithfulness. “No” as the bus crawled through the jammed streets. 7pm. How far away were we? 7:10. The bus picked up speed. “Do you trust me?” Oh Lord. I had to confess. I don't trust very well. I was already planning how I would need to look for a bus to the Ecuador/Peru border back in Quito. At 7:23 we pulled into the airport and I sped up the stairs to the LAN counter. “8pm flight?” the attendant asked as I was whisked through... breathing sigh upon sigh of relief. Yes, God, Yes! I trust you!
And then I was miraculously in line, waiting to board.
“Reitsma, Crystal, please approach the ticket counter...” What was this? I haven't been summoned to the ticket counter since Februrary of 2008. “Your baggage has been selected for a random search” said the agent. “Follow me please.” Seriously? The flight left in ten minutes and... “Do you trust me?” Oh Lord. Yes. I do. So we ran down back through security, through the waiting people, outside to where the luggage was being... no, had already been loaded on the belts to the plane, and there sat my red backpack, lonely. It was opened, peeked in, questioned... and we were off and running again, back into the building, back up the stairs, back through security, and down to the very empty gate.
Last one on? Yes. On the plane? Yes.
Oh Jesus, why is trust so hard? Why do I feel I have to figure everything out, have a plan B, and C... and maybe even D, doubting God's provision, His willingness, His very love. I don't know. Trusting Him comes hard, even with a mountain of evidence in His favor. Trust for the ministry when all looks sparse. Trust for friendship when friends are scarce. But I do know that I want to live out trust more. And live much less in the panicky, tight-fisted, close-hearted cynicism that I seem to have garnered over the last few years. He proves Himself over and over... and even if I HAD missed the flight, even if I had NO place to stay... would He still be good and trustworthy?