Suitcases and Unanswered Prayers

I slugged my heavy, olive green suitcase onto my bed and began packing it with neatly folded shirts and work pants.

I was preparing for a work trip, and wanted to be sure I had all of the necessary travel items with me:  

toothpaste?  check.  

hair straightener?  check.  

extra sweater just in case it gets chilly in the reception room? check  

I zippered up my suitcase and said a specific prayer, "Lord, I don't usually ask for stuff like this – it feels silly – but please bless my bag?  Please make sure it gets to where it needs to go?  I'm nervous about checking it.  I'd like my trip to be a safe and easy one while I travel by myself.  Thank you.  I love you."

I headed out to my airport, hopped aboard the plane, peered in amazement out my window as we took flight (flying is so cool), and landed safely to my destination.  

I walked to the airport baggage claim and eagerly awaited for my bag.

And I waited.

I waited some more.

Until I realized that – after waiting quite some time and watching the other bags get scooped up off the conveyor belt by their owners – my bag was not coming.

me, waiting for my suitcase in the airport

me, waiting for my suitcase in the airport

Still somewhat hopeful that maybe my bag was with a baggage claim attendant, I made my way to the customer service desk.

The attendant pulled up my information.  He looked up from the screen, apologized, and explained that my bag was mistakenly sent onto the wrong flight.  It would arrive at the airport in 3 hours.

Annoyed and downtrodden, I made my way to a seat.  I sat.  And I waited.  And thought.  And felt hurt.

A quiet question rose up in my heart:  "God, why didn't you answer my prayer?  It wasn't a big request."

At that time, I noticed a limo driver walk by me in a business suit.  He had a blue-tooth ear piece in his ear.  He looked trustworthy.  I asked him if he would drive me to my hotel in 3 hours.  He said he'd come back to take me to my destination.

My bag finally arrived.

The gentleman came back.  I picked up my bag.  He rolled it for me into the back of the SUV, and off we drove to the hotel.

I sat in the back while he drove and made small talk.  I noticed that he was beaming and full of joy.  He had a rich, black complexion and a thick accent. I asked him about his heritage.  He told me his story.  He was from Ghana.  He then shared his thoughts on the election.  I was tired.  It was late.  I didn't want to talk about politics. 

I replied, "I am so thankful that this world is not my home."  

It was then that his eyes lit up.  He shared his faith with me.

He told me about his desire as a child to become a doctor, but somehow that lead him to the United States, and to banking, and to owning his own business as a Limosine Driver. He told me about his mom guiding him to Jesus when he was 12.  He told me that everybody has talents – some big, some small – and we are all responsible for using them for Him.  He told me about the apostle Paul and how God changes people.  He told me that everything would be OK with whoever is President – that God is ultimately in control.  We talked about the rapture and judgement day.  He told me that death for a believer is one of the best days to which we can look forward, and one day Jesus would be coming back soon to make all of this heartache right.  It all flowed out from him so naturally, and a lot of what he said were answers to questions I had been struggling with lately.  I have never met a more joyous person.

We arrived to the hotel.  He gave me his card.  His name was Emmanuel.

He told me to call him if I needed a ride back to the airport later in the week.  After my trip ended, I did.  We had the same encouraging conversations on the drive back to the airport.  I got out of the SUV;  he gave me a hug.  He then put his arm on my shoulder and said a blessing for my family and me.  We said goodbye, and I teared up.  It was one of the best answered prayers I've had in a long time.

Maybe God knew what He was doing with my suitcase after all.

florida palm
the ocean

Which unlikely person has encouraged you lately?   How has God surprised you recently with unanswered prayers?

photos from my trip to Clearwater, FL, earlier last week.  I've taken a bit of a break from my blog, but I'll be back soon with drawings from my art adventures.