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Everything Falls into Place Eventually

Kristina dropped me off at the airport for a flight to Oakland last month. She was coordinating a medical clinic in Mexico for the weekend. I was traveling to California for Jon Riley’s ordination service, a family dinner, a pastor’s meeting and a hike. We arrived early so I could enjoy the trip and avoid the anxiety of security delays.

I walked up to Gate C-18 in time to hear an attendant announce the flight to Oakland was delayed for twenty minutes. I had my backpack with my Bible, sermon binder, iPad, newspaper, book, magazines, and food. It was over an hour before our departure rescheduled for 1:25 PM. I grabbed a seat and opened up the Wall Street Journal. After a half hour, I walked back up to the gate and asked the attendant about our flight status. “We are waiting for a plane from Chicago. It will be another forty minutes,” he told me.
Returning to my seat, my reading was soon interrupted by another announcement. The Oakland flight was now scheduled to depart at 2:30 PM. I was getting frustrated. The delays would mean I would hit rush hour traffic. I texted my son, Phil, and called my mother, telling them that I might be late for dinner, and then I took a short walk.

I got back to the gate, answered some email, and finished the paper. It was past 2:30 PM, so I walked up to the boarding gate again. Two new attendants were now standing there. “What’s the status on our flight?” I asked.

“What flight?” one of them asked.

“The flight to Oakland that I have been waiting on for the last two and a half hours.”

“We don’t know anything about that flight,” he replied.

“What do you mean you don’t know about it? I have been up to this gate three times asking about it!”

The man looked at the computer screen in front of him. “Oh, that is scheduled for gate C-11.”

I wanted to yell at the guy, but I was about to miss the flight. I threw my backpack over my shoulder and sprinted toward C-11. I pulled my left hamstring on the run, but I made it just as the flight finished boarding.

Rush hour was brutal, but I made it to our family dinner. The next day my hamstring was hurting, and I had to cut short my hike with Ken Sanders. Ken and I exited the Open Space at a trailhead on Las Colindas Road. We walked by a house with a For Sale sign. Two men were standing in the driveway in the midst of shopping carts and palm fronds. I asked one of them about the house. He said it should be torn down, but I got excited. We had been looking for a house in Marin County for Phil’s family for the past five years, but Marin is very expensive.

The next day the realtor told us that a hoarder had died in the house. Forty-nine Safeway shopping carts had already been removed, along with four big dumpsters of junk. Rainwater seeped up through the floors. The foundation needed to be rebuilt, and the sewage pipes were broken. The house needed rewiring, the yard flooded when it rained, and the lot was sliding towards the street. The interior walls, bathrooms, and kitchen needed to be gutted. It had to be a cash offer because the banks wouldn’t finance it and they wanted to close in six days.

Phil is an engineer with expertise in drainage. His father-in-law is an electrical contractor. Two of my brothers are contractors who love Phil and could remodel the house. For the next three days, we scrambled to assemble our line of credit, all the cash in our immediate family, and a loan from Phil’s friend. We made the best offer we could. It seemed like the Lord had worked miraculously. Our whole family had pulled together to bless my son.

Everything seemed to fall into place by divine arrangement… until it didn’t.

At the last minute, someone made a better offer, and they got the house.

Sometimes we are sure God is working, and then we get surprised by a bad outcome. I’ve learned disappointments are not the end of the story, simply a painful chapter in a bigger and better story. When we work, hope and pray, and things don’t go well, it hurts. When we care deeply about those we love, our hearts are vulnerable. We know the Kingdom of God triumphs in the end. In the meantime, we have to wait and trust the Lord. God hears our prayers, knows our needs, and continues to work in all things to accomplish His purposes.