It was a storm like none we’d seen. The sky was black, and rain poured out of the clouds onto our little rental car like it came from a huge bucket being tipped back and forth. The water was literally blinding until the swish of our windshield wipers brought the road back into view. I found myself growing more nervous.
My husband, Ray, and I had just completed a one-week stay in beautiful Playa del Carmen, along the Yucatan of Mexico, which is known for its pristine white beaches and rich Mayan culture. It had been a wonderful trip, and we were heading to the Cancun airport to catch a flight back to the United States.
The rain let up as we made it to the car rental return. We got to the airport and onto our plane. Things seemed well, and we were relieved to be on our flight. But the storm had delayed other flights, and we and our fellow passengers found ourselves sitting in the plane on the tarmac for nearly an hour.
We’d experienced delays before and had carefully planned a two-hour layover at our midpoint destination, so we felt that all was OK. Skies cleared, other planes took off, and soon we were in the air. Things were uneventful as we landed at our connection airport. We proceeded to the immigration and customs area and found ourselves in a bizarre world of long lines, inefficient processing, and grumpy airline personnel and passengers. The usual half-hour ordeal turned into one that lasted more than an hour. Our plan to connect to another flight to reach our destination was in jeopardy.
We finally made it through customs with only two minutes to get to the other end of the large airport. We took off running, bags and all. We reached our gate 10 minutes after our scheduled departure time, our hopes rising when we saw that the plane was still there.
Yes? No? Yes!
Our hopes crashed when the gate agent informed us that we couldn’t get on this flight because the plane had shut its doors and federal law prevented anyone boarding a plane after the doors were sealed. Sure enough, before our very eyes the plane started backing away from the gate.
The gate agent told us more bad news: that was the last flight of the night to our destination. She said we could go to the service desk to arrange for a night’s stay and a flight out in the morning.
Although all seemed lost, deep inside me was a belief that God could help us. I had built this belief on many answered prayers in my life. I prayed silently as we walked to the service desk, thanking Him for our beautiful trip and our safe arrival thus far, and asking that if it was His will, we could get back to Albuquerque that night on the plane that was leaving.
The original gate agent yelled, “Hey, you two! Hurry; come over here right away!”
Exhausted and travel-worn, I had a brief moment of disbelief at myself for praying such a prayer. That plane was slowly heading toward the runaway, so how ridiculous was this to even imagine it could return?
For some reason, though, I had an overwhelming sense that God was in control. But I still felt guilty for asking so much. After all, hadn’t God just blessed us with an amazing week and allowed us to arrive safely back to the airport in the storm?
Then a thought crossed my mind: there might be other flights on other airlines. I prayed for God’s will. I prayed that if it was not God’s will that we get back home that night, that was OK, and I prayed for a safe and comfortable room to stay in. Still, I had a strong feeling that God was going to do more. I told Him I trusted Him. I felt calm and at peace.
We approached the service desk, and the agent began looking for alternate flights the next day. As we were talking, the original gate agent we’d spoken to earlier yelled, “Hey, you two! Hurry; come over here right away!” She gestured frantically for us to come back to the gate immediately. We ran over.
What she said next amazed me and reaffirmed my faith. She told us that as the plane was heading onto the runway, its navigation system went down. It had to return to the gate so that a service tech could board the plane and repair the system. She had radioed to the crew to see if they would allow two more passengers on the plane, since the doors were now open. They said yes.
Soon we were walking down the aisle of our originally scheduled flight. We found ourselves getting some stares from some of the other passengers. They may have thought that the plane had come back to the gate and their flight was delayed for us.
And you know what? Perhaps it was!
Janet Van Why attends the Albuquerque Central Seventh-day Adventist Church in New Mexico.