What do you do when the best-laid plans do not turn out the way you thought? I had an experience recently that I would like to share with you. We took The auto train from Florida to the Women of Promise International Ministries conference in Maryland. I had so many things to transport for the conference: packets, bags, books, T-shirts, folders and notebooks, etc. The auto train appeared to be an excellent way to travel. We could pack the car, get on the train, and sleep as we took the 17 hour train ride to Maryland.
We had an uneventful trip, a very nice assistant on the train and things went really well. We had a great conference, and we were scheduled to return home on Monday September 11, but hurricane Irma came through the state of Florida. We didn’t have to worry about whether or not we should evacuate for Irma because we were already out of town attending the conference. Unfortunately, the storm rendered the train tracks impassable and our Monday’s return trip was canceled and rescheduled for Thursday.
Well, that didn’t seem like such a bad thing because I had promised myself that the next time I was in the area on a Sunday morning that I could visit Greater Mt Calvary Holy Church. I also wanted to tour the African-American Museum in Washington DC and visit a friend in West Virginia. Now, with the train delay I would fulfill all three of those desires. As a special bonus, I was able to minister the Word on Wednesday night in West Virginia. What a great experience.
Our Thursday train ended up being cancelled as well because of the residual from the storm. We were told that the tracks were still under water in some of the areas of our route back to Florida.The next available seat they had for us on the train, not a sleeper but a business class seat would be on September 21.
My friend was very kind and offered for us to stay as long as we liked to but we realized we really needed to get home. With a goal in mind, we set out driving with me as the only driver. I figured no matter how long it took we would surely arrive before September 21.
My GPS showed our destination as nearly 1000 miles. I certainly was not looking forward to that as I had made a decision not to do long-distance driving after experiencing horrible sciatica pain after my last road trip a year prior.
We were looking at nearly 15 hours of driving. After praying we started our journey. I stopped frequently and after eight hours in the car we checked into a hotel for the night. We had been warned about gas not being available on some exits. We were told that the traffic would be heavily congested with people returning to Florida after having to evacuate and that some hotels would be closed.
God granted us favor as we spent the first night and headed out again the next morning. The second night we stopped after seven hours in the car to rest deciding to do the final leg of the trip home on the third day. We ran into minor traffic congestion a few times. Gasoline was readily available and the hotel we chose on our final night had just opened the day before after being closed for a week.
So what do you do when life gives you an interruption? Apostle Paul writes in Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” When interruptions come, I stand on what I know to be true about God. He is faithful and He does not lie. I am confident that this interruption was somehow working for my good. There might have been something that God wanted me to learn, or something He wanted to show me, but nevertheless I must always keep moving forward.
Let me encourage you my friend, because I know life has a way of giving us all kinds of interruptions whether it be a long-term illnesses, loss of job, loss of home, a hurricane, or death of a loved one. There are all kinds of things that interrupt our lives, but even in that we give thanks. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV) “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
It is in those moments of interruption that we must resist the temptation to complain. The key to maintaining our joy is to not complain when things do not go according to our plans. In the midst of interruptions I have learned to offer God praise.
I had an awesome opportunity to minister to some lovely woman. God provided for our needs as we traveled and when we arrived home there was no damage to our home from the hurricane.
Interruptions are just an opportunity to offer a praise of thanksgiving to an awesome God. What started as a 6 day voyage turned into a 10 day trip, but at the conclusion of it all, we ended up right where we needed to be.