Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How soon I forget

Remember my July 5 blog?
How I talked about loving myself?

I have another story, a true story about one of many times that God has shown His love for me.

I think it was June of 1989. I and a team of evangelists were in JFK airport, New York, waiting to board a Nigeria Airways jet to Lagos, Nigeria. For many months prior, my team and I prepared for this trip, making sure that we had everything we needed for the trip. Including our passports and visas. By the time we had arrived at JFK, we were still not in receipt of our passports from the Nigerian Embassy. Our boarding time was to be at midnight. It was 4:30PM when Tom Stebbins called our agent and asked again about the status of the passports. “Go to the TWA terminal. They have them ready for you there,” they told Tom. Tom turned to Lyle Irvin, Bill Waters, and me, requesting that we take a journey over to the TWA terminal and get the passports.

The three of us caught the bus to the TWA terminal and arrived in a matter of minutes. The lady at the check-in counter was polite, but insisted that she had no package for Tom Stebbins, and had no record of such a package. In disbelief we returned to the Nigeria Airways terminal and reported the same to Tom.

Again, around 7:30 PM, Tom called the agent, and the agent again insisted that TWA had the passports. We took the trip once again, and returned empty handed, once again. We made the trip again at 9:30 PM and again at 11:30PM, as the plane was boarding, thirty minutes before the plane was to depart.

Again, the ticket agent told us she had nothing. We asked for a supervisor. He verified, they had nothing. As we turned to go back to Nigeria Airways, the ticket agent said, “Wait! I just thought of something. Maybe you are looking for TWA Express. They may have it.” We looked at each other. Lyle asked how to get there. The agent pointed us through a set of doors that took us to what appeared to be an alley with a dead-end. We looked at each other in disbelief. Why would the agent be so cruel as to send us out into a dead-end alley. We turned back toward the double doors to go back to the ticket agent. A voice came from behind, “You boys look lost.” It was a short gray-haired elderly lady dressed in a light brown tweed dress outfit. Her face was peaceful and her manner very friendly.

“We have to get to TWA Express. They may have a package for us.”

“Follow me. It is hard to find from here,” she said. She took us beyond what appeared to be the dead-end and then pointed further down the alley. “Keep walking that way until you come to another alley. Turn left and TWA Express is at the end of that alley.”

We turned to see where she was pointing, then turned to thank her. She was gone, nowhere to be seen and we had a clear view of the passageway for at least a half of a city block. We looked at each other in astonishment, then ran the remaining way to TWA Express. It was 11:56 PM. The plane was scheduled to depart in four minutes.

A young lady greeted us at the counter. “May I help you?”

“We are looking for a package from Washington D.C. to Tom Stebbins.”

The lady typed something into the computer. “No, we don't have anything under that name. Is there any other name?”

The disbelief in our eyes must have clued the woman into thinking that we had full expectation that the package was there. “One moment,” she said. She went to a large bin behind her, lifted the lid, and maneuvered around to get a better view of the contents. “Aha!” she exclaimed. She lifted herself down into the bin and disappeared momentarily, then resurfaced with a package in her hands. “Tom Stebbins,” she said as she climbed out of the bin. “We missed it.” She handed the package to Lyle. We turned, thanking the lady and ran back to the TWA terminal and out to catch the bus back to Nigeria Airways.

We arrived back to the departure gate, greeted by Tom Stebbins and the rest of the team. “We have it.”

“Great timing!” Tom said, “They just ordered our baggage off the plane.” He left immediately to find the gate manager. The gate manager delayed the flight and boarded us.

Later, as we discussed the event, we all agreed that the lady in the tweed suit was nothing short of an angel. We were absolutely sure that we were supposed to be on our way to Africa considering the miracle we had just experienced.

As I was walking the dogs today, that incident came to mind. I laughed, “Well, that miracle happened for the rest of the team, not for me. I was just a coincidental beneficiary of a gift that was meant for the rest of the team.”

Do you see the problem? Do you see how I so easily dismissed God's love for me?

I continued to think about how I had just now denied God's love for me. You see, God is not the problem in all of this. I am! And that is exactly what I need to work on—this notion that I have that I am not worthy of God's love.

Well, the fact is, I'm not worthy, but God's love is true love. He loves me because He is Love. He accepts me unconditionally. And I ask myself once again, “If God loves me, who am I to question God's judgment?" I need to love myself—without conditions.

Be Peace. Be Love.

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