About an hour from now I’ll be checking in at my gate in Heathrow Airport, Lord’s Willing, headed out to see family in Pennsylvania. Back in June I made my first flight anywhere without my Annie – indeed my first ever flight alone. That little trip to Switzerland did little to prepare me for this second, longer flight across the Atlantic.
Thankfully, after preaching yesterday morning, I was able to head down to Hayes in the afternoon and spend the night at Mom Ruth’s – she lives just five minutes from Heathrow. I still managed to almost goof that trip up after accidentally putting some petrol in my car instead of diesel! Then just last night, confident that I’d done all the admin for this trip, Tim (Annie’s brother) said the two words that had slipped my mind and consequently occupied me at the breakfast table this morning: “Travel insurance?” And on arrival at the airport, still I circumnavigated the terminal twice before I even knew what I was supposed to be looking for.
It’s all a far cry from our many past trips to the US when all I needed to do was try as best I could to follow Annie’s feet as she danced between the desks and airport personnel. I sometimes wished I’d learned more from her knowledge in the vacation department; back then I gladly had no part in the planning process other than to ensure that we had the money in the bank and to nod supportively and confidently when Annie explained where ‘we’ were in the process! Right from the moment we’d decide to go away, she became the Muliette Household Tour Director of Operations. Nobody could find better flight and travel options than Annie; and that was so well known that she was often consulted by friends to do the same for them. Instead of watching and learning, I guess I just watched and enjoyed. I loved that she was so good at that. It was a similar feeling to watching her play the piano – I never got bored of marvelling at how Annie used her gifts and talents. Wow, I miss that so much.
We always had a smooth transition into and out of our vacations too. Annie always understood the need to guard and protect the week before we flew and the week after we arrived. I know this, I’m just terrible at making it happen. In fact, I seem to have a knack for doing precisely the opposite. The past couple of months have been perhaps the fullest months of ministry for a long time and the past week has been no exception other than marking itself out as exceptionally full. I am thankful to God for the many opportunities He has given me to demonstrate and declare His love – and, perhaps more importantly, lean on Him for strength – to so many in this past week. In the previous six days there’s been (just counting…) about twenty different people pass through my home and join me around the meal table. Jesus fed over five thousand people with five loaves and two fish. I regard that miracle with even greater marvel now that I have experienced what it’s like to feed twenty people over the course of a week with kitchen cabinets stacked with all the stuff you need to assemble something that resembles a meal. Again, another reminder of how much I miss my Annie. My kitchen and this airport terminal have a lot in common. I feel a little bit lost in both without my Annie.
But the effort has granted me twenty opportunities to talk to people about Jesus and testify that He is good and faithful and awesome at carrying me – especially when I am weak. I’ve felt very weak this last couple of weeks. Very weak. Weak in faith, weak physically. Weak spiritually. Weak emotionally. Just weak. But by His grace and mercy, He ensures that through the cracks and fractures, I and others get a better glimpse of the treasure within.
Well, my last hurdle is an open gate. Let’s see if I can’t monumentally mess that one up! Must dash…and hopefully, fly!
In His Arms,