Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (without John Candy)

In many ways, I overbooked myself this past month, but I felt like God wanted me to agree to two events that were happening during the same week.

I already had the week of teaching with Bethel Seminary set up when a request came to speak in four California cities as part of One Night One Reason.

During that week I took 8 flights using 6 airlines, and I was in 6 airports. It was crazy! I spent the night in San Diego Sunday night, in San Francisco Monday night, in Fresno Tuesday night, Drove from San Diego to the Los Angeles area and back to San Diego on Wed night, and then spent the night in San Diego Thursday night.

I rode lots of planes, some trains (at the airports), and several automobiles just to make it work. Miraculously, I made it to every event. All worked out, but it truly was a miracle.

Now on Tuesday morning of that week, I read from several passages, but one in particular stood out. It was Psalm 16. David, the one who wrote the Psalm writes that every good thing is a gift from God and that God extends our boundaries. Another meaningful part was verses 8-11 which say:

Psalm 16:8-11

“‘I saw the Lord always before me.
    Because he is at my right hand,
    I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    you will not let your holy one see decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence.’

The passage was so encouraging, I texted that passage to a few of our leaders.

On that same Tuesday afternoon, I was patiently waiting for my plane to arrive so I could board my flight to Fresno. The gate agent got on the loud speaker and announced my flight to Fresno would be delayed. I was already cutting it extremely close with the original arrival time. I was supposed to speak at 8:25 – the last of 5 speakers. Originally I was supposed to arrive at 6:30pm and the event started at 6:45pm. Now we would be arriving around 7:30pm.

Somehow I still felt at peace. I contacted the folks waiting for me in Fresno and asked them to pray. They started to scramble for a back up plan.

Last year I really tried to overcome a lifelong struggle with anxiety through the Unchained series at Gateway Church in Austin. I even shared for my Confession last summer that I have control issues. I have made tremendous progress trusting God in this way, but this was a perfect opportunity to relapse.

Even still, I felt peace.

I still texted a few friends to pray it would all work out. Several minutes later, the agent got on the loud speaker again and informed us our departure time would be even later. Now we would be arriving after the event would be over.

If the flight delay before didn’t trip me up, this would be the perfect moment to panic.

Psalm 16 came back to mind. I even thought about a phrase or two that had stuck with me. I still felt peace. If God wanted me to speak in Fresno I knew He would make a way.

I was confronted with a reality though:

  • Do I really trust that God can do the miraculous?
  • Do I really believe this?
  • Can I trust Him even if this does not work out?

 Trusting God means knowing God will do things that we cannot do.
Trusting God also means being obedient to do our part.

It was then that I talked to the gate agent to see if there was any other flight leaving LAX to Fresno. She told me there was a flight leaving at 7pm, but she also told me there was nothing she could do to help me. I would have to wait for my flight. I asked if she worked with anyone else who could do something. She suggested her supervisor.

As I waited for the supervisor to arrive, I suddenly had a sense from God that this was going to work out. I somehow knew I was going to make it to Fresno. I cannot explain how I knew. There was no audible voice. There was no angel walking by with “Fresno” on his shirt. Somehow I knew it.

As the supervisor walked up I smiled and reached out my hand. I guess he is more of a fist bump person because he did not smile back nor did he offer his hand to shake. Even still, I explained the situation and somehow his countenance softened. Remarkably he decided to check on that other flight. Miraculously (without ever smiling), he put me on the other flight that left at 7pm. After getting my new ticket, I found another airport employee who showed me a sneaky way to get to the other terminal – riding two buses that took passengers along the runways next to the planes who were taxiing their way to the terminal.

That is when I did something I am not sure I have ever done before. I started texting people to pray for something I knew was going to miraculously happen. I texted them so that they could experience a miracle with me! I didn’t want them to miss this moment!

I texted Deborah and asked her to pull the kids together to pray with her that I might make it to Fresno in time to speak at the conference. I wanted them to be part of this miracle with me.

Even though I had this new flight, if it was late at all, I would miss the event. I had to arrive by 8:13pm in order to get in the car for the 20 minute drive in order to speak at 8:40pm.

While waiting in the terminal for my flight to Fresno, I decided to work on the last message in the life24seven series for Gateway South. #life24seven is about knowing God intimately and bringing hope to humanity – no matter where we may be – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. At the same time, we are making financial commitments to move into a new 24/7 location for Gateway South. During the series, I used several verses with 24:7 and a few 2:47.

As I was preparing for the message at the terminal waiting on my new flight to Fresno, I read through Matthew 24:7 and then Luke 2:47 and finally Luke 24:7. All are great passages but not as helpful for us in this moment as one of my favorite passages: Acts 2:47. I decided that would be the passage for the last message just about the time we started to board the plane.

Once I got on the plane, I decided to read the context of Acts 2:47 by reading Acts 1-2.

In Acts 1, Jesus is saying farewell to His disciples. He had risen from the dead and spent time with them teaching them about the Kingdom of God and preparing them for life without Him. He would send His Spirit to be with them.

At one point, Jesus said to them:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8

It was then Jesus ascended into heaven.

For several days the disciples waited for the Spirit. Finally a holiday known as Pentecost arrived. Jewish people from all across the Roman world came to Jerusalem to celebrate. Miraculously the disciples heard a sound like a violent wind. The promised Spirit of God filled them, and they were able to speak in the native languages of all of those visiting.

Hearing their native language from these fishermen and tax collectors, the people were confused and figured that they must just be drunk.

It was then that Peter, one of the disciples stood up and addressed the crowd. He told the people that the people were not drunk. It was only 9am in the morning! Instead he explained that this was a miracle and a fulfillment of the prophet Joel’s words.

Peter finishes continues his message proclaiming Jesus as more than a man who did miracles but God among us! He was God among us. He died on the cross and rose from the dead.

It was then that Peter quoted King David with the following words:

“‘I saw the Lord always before me.
    Because he is at my right hand,
    I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    you will not let your holy one see decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence.’

Did you catch that?! It is Psalm 16 again! I was so shocked to read it that I almost threw my Bible across the little tray table on the plane.

God was reminding me. I do not need to be anxious. As long as I focus my eyes on the Lord, I will not be shaken!

You see, when God whispers into our hearts and minds the same message over and over and over throughout the day, He is speaking.

Here’s what God was saying to me, and saying to you:

  • God is with us!
  • God will not abandon us!
  • He gives us joy!
  • He gives us rest!
  • He gives us life24seven!

We can trust God fully!

No matter what you may be facing – you can trust Jesus.

Well, miraculously I did make it in time to speak in Fresno. As I walked into the back of the auditorium, the M.C. and host of the event Randy McWhorter saw me and introduced a video. During the video I put on my microphone and walked to the front of the auditorium. After the video, Randy introduced me, and I spoke.

I hope the message was encouraging to those who came to the even that night in Fresno. I know just standing there, I was encouraged.

Sometimes God says “yes” to what may seem like small prayers so that we can trust Him when the answer is “no” to big prayers.

On this particular night, I knew it was “yes” even before I got there.

Free Consultation

If you're interested in a free 30-min consultation with me, simply fill out this form and I'll contact you!