Yesterday was our final day at SPLICE. I kept waking up throughout the night thinking about all the things I’ve been learning, and thinking about all that faced me back home. Since it takes me a longer time than some to develop relationships, I was just starting to figure out my place, and just beginning to really connect with friends, and then it was time to say goodbye. It makes me sad.
We ended our final session with a time of worship. The last song we sang was a reworking of an old hymn called Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me. The first verse says, “Jesus, Savior, pilot me/Over life’s tempestuous sea/Unknown waves before me roll/Hiding rock and treacherous shoal/Chart and compass came from Thee/Jesus, Savior, pilot me.”
It was beautiful to sing out this prayer together, knowing each of us there is heading, in many ways, into unknown waters.
It was also very appropriate! I got to the airport to find out there had been literal storms through Chicago causing delays. I managed to get off in Colorado on time, but planes were backed up at O’Hare. It’s a helpless feeling to sit watching the minutes tick down, knowing the chances of catching the next flight are slipping away.
I landed in Dulles at 9:45 p.m., 45 minutes later than scheduled. My flight to the small regional airport 20 minutes from home was to leave at 9:59 p.m. I had 15 minutes to find my next gate and then attempt to catch the plane. I landed in “C”, the big board said my next gate was in “A”. And the plane was ‘Boarding’.
Off I ran. Up escalators and around, through long hallways, down to the train. Off the train, up an escalator, then down one, then another hall, then up again, down again… even with just a small bag, my legs started protesting. I got to my gate at 10:00. Closed.
I saw a flight boarding for Charlottesville, another regional airport close by. I ran up. Can I get on this flight? I was interrupting his boarding process, and I had to wait until he was done before he informed me there was nothing he could do for me.
Despite all my best efforts, Closed. I had tried, I really had. All my running, all my hard work, and nothing. I was hot and sweating and frustrated. I had texted Paul and Laura, who were picking me up, to tell them I might miss. Now I had to text them again. Instead of a quick trip, they were now facing 2 hours up and 2 hours back.
But, we weren’t done yet. There were bands of storms moving up I-81. Driving through the mountains at 2:00 a.m. with sheets of water hurtling at you is no fun. And, the lightning flashes up ahead told us we were driving into plenty more! Because the highway kind of follows a valley, the storms seemed caught directly in our path.
At one point we couldn’t even see the road through the deluge. And then we started hearing hail. Oh, yeah, it just kept getting better and better…
I sat in the back wanting to apologize for putting my friends through this. It was my fault they were up in the middle of the night, it was my fault they were tense and anxious. With each band of pounding rain, I felt worse. It was relentless and there was nothing I could do.
That trip home was like my life right now. I’m doing the best I can, but things still are out of control. The people I love are also caught up in it. What I want to do is apologize to them, but of course, that’s not actually helpful – or even appropriate!
Because they love me, my friends were there for me in the middle of the night, giving up a cozy bed and driving through a nasty mess. I had to sit and allow them to do that. That’s not going to change in the next weeks and months. More friends will be impacted by more storms. It will not be helpful – or appropriate! – for me to apologize for those, either.
Last night I resisted the temptation to take responsibility for the storms. Instead, I kept still so Paul could drive. And, I prayed. Jesus, Savior, be our pilot. Keep us in Your care. You know the way, guide us. You know I cannot do anything to help. Be our help.
The final lines of the song say “May I hear Thee say to me/Fear not I will pilot thee”. We made it safely home last night. I need to continue to trust that each of us, my SPLICE friends, my family and other friends, are being led by the One who not only charts our course, but created the stars (and storms) themselves. In Him alone is our only safety.
Friends, our Pilot is sure. His invitation is to ‘fear not’. I’m praying for the courage to hear, to trust, to obey. For me, for you.
Jesus, Savior, up ahead are storms and treacherous rocks and unknown dangers. Be our strong and steady guide. Thank you for bringing us safely home last night. Thank you for the promise that You are with us always, to the end of the age.