I am a creature of habit. Any member of my family will tell you that.
My morning routine is exactly that: routine. My bedtime routine is also always the same. It bugs me when things are not the same. I even like to sit in the same spot in church every week and tend to get a bit cranky if we are late and I have to sit somewhere else
Nonetheless, I also think of myself as rather adventuresome. Something my family will also confirm. I like trying new things, going to new places, tasting new foods, etc. So although I was nervous about heading off to Indonesia, as my previous blog posts testify, I was also excited about this adventure.
Friday was the day I left everything and everybody I know to travel to this distant place in Southeast Asia, a bit north of Australia, and a bit south of Viet Nam.
The flight to Chicago was uneventful. After all, how much difficulty could there be on a one hour flight to a familiar airport? But once I got to Chicago the reality of what I was doing started to sink in. (Have I also mentioned that I tend to be impulsive, not always thinking through my more adventurous ideas?)Rather than walking from one gate to another, I had to leave the main terminal via train and go to the international terminal, a completely separate building as it turns out. I realized I was leaving the world I knew and was comfortable with for a place I knew little about. To say I felt uncomfortable would be an understatement.
Once on the plane, I was fine again. After all, planes are familiar, although Cathay-Pacific was WAY nicer than anything I have flown in the recent past. But then came Hong Kong.
I had a 14 hour layover there. Because of that, I booked a room at the airport hotel. Unfortunately, I had no idea how to get there. It looked so simple online.
There was no gate attendant as I am used to seeing at U.S. airports. So who to ask?
I finally asked someone in a Cathay-Pacific uniform who kindly informed me that I had to head to immigration.
I stopped to text my husband to tell him I had arrived in Hong Kong only to find out that my cell phone did not have service in Hong Kong. Now I was really alone and feeling every bit of it.
I got to immigration only to find a huge line. I just wanted to go to my room at the hotel! After clearing that hurdle, I still needed to find the “easy, enclosed walkway to the hotel.” It might have been easy and enclosed, but it was also elusive. All I saw were luggage carousels. I asked a kindly immigration officer which way to go and he pointed me in the right direction.
I was tired, anxious, and on the verge of tears by the time I found the walkway to the hotel, made it to the registration desk, and had the key to my room in my hand.
I got to my room only to find that I had no idea how to turn on the lights. Was I really this stupid? By that point, exhaustion from the 16 hour flight, stress from trying to find my way alone, and not even being able to text my husband took over. I sat down in my dark hotel room and cried.
Having taken care of that, I got up, went back to the door to my room, and opened it to get some light from the hall, hoping I could figure out how to turn on the room lights. Which I did. Turns out I had to put my card key in a little box just inside the door. Of course no one told me that. With lights and a quiet room, I placed an old-fashioned international call to my husband and started crying again when I heard his voice. Then, somewhat recovered, I made a cup of tea.
Then I realized that of course, I had not been alone.
God was with me, and even reminded me of that while I was on the elevator to my room. I heard that still, small voice say ‘you are NOT alone.’ And I think if I had remembered that sooner, or been listening more carefully, the night might have been a bit less stressful.
All this is to say that God wants me to depend on him. Yes, of course I need to use my head too. But when I totally rely on my own instincts and skills, trying to control the situation and make it go the way I want it to go, it rarely ends well and I often end up harried and upset.
It seems that God wanted to remind me right up front, on the very first day of this particular adventure, that forgetting about Who is really in control of his project would not be a good idea.
So I am back to my routine of beginning my day with God, listening to him remind me that he is with me always, even to the close of the age.