“This did not go as I planned.” That statement could be my catchphrase. I should not be surprised anymore when things do not go as I plan them. I had planned to fly from Anchorage to Portland with Girla (one of last year’s TLC grads) to get her settled into her dorm for her first semester of college. She’s attending Multnomah University in Portland and I managed to have enough miles to accompany her. I was ecstatic to take a trip with her, help her settle in, and get things ready for this new chapter of her life.
I went into Anchorage on Tuesday afternoon to spend a couple days of “rest” amidst a busy month. Winter Camp was just ending, staff planning retreat is next week, and then TLC starts immediately after. I knew I needed some down time. Promptly after arriving in Anchorage I was without a vehicle. A long series of events and two hours later, I was blessed by the use of a friend’s vehicle. I also ended up having a few unavoidable errands that became more time consuming and frustrating than necessary. This Anchorage visit was much more restful than it normal, but definitely not the “retreat” I had hoped for/planned.
Girla was scheduled to come to from Dillingham to Anchorage on Wednesday so we could fly to Portland together on Thursday morning. That afternoon I got a text from Girla asking for prayers because her flight was cancelled and she was on standby for a flight later that day, but all of them were full. All day we texted back and forth thinking she may make it, then more cancellations. By 10:00pm she was still in Dillingham with little hope of making it to Anchorage before our Portland flight. I still took my flight down and planned just to meet her later on Thursday. But for Girla, Thursday held more disappointment. We rallied people to pray along with us for her flight, but God had other plans.
I landed in Portland around 4pm, picked up my rental car (which I got a complimentary upgrade on because the man at the counter asked what brought me to Portland and I told him a snippet of Girla’s story), checked into my hotel room (which was way nicer than I imagined), and went in search of dinner. Up to this point Girla had been scheduled for a flight late on Thursday and then an overnight flight to arrive in Portland Friday morning. During dinner I received a text from Girla. Cancelled flight. Girla and I were both feeling discouraged. I texted the staff and asked for prayer. Immediately I got two called and was prayed with on the phone. I felt overwhelmed with peace, also a sense that I needed to make the most of this opportunity and see what God had in store for me.
So here I was. Alone in Oregon. Without a plan.
I took myself out for a movie and headed to bed thinking about what Friday may have in store. I woke up the next morning to the unfamiliar sight of the sun being up before 9am. I packed a bag, grabbed my GPS, and headed out the door. I decided to head up the Columbia River Gorge and see what Oregon had to offer. As I drove I had a lot of time to think and reflect. I turned off the radio, prayed, and enjoyed looking at the haze veiled hills. I pulled off at the first place on my list to check out, The Vista House. It was like a my eyes were open and something new was beginning. I began pondering deeper concepts…
I, the self-admitted worst vacationer (who feels the need to take care of everyone else and never truly rest), was beginning to enjoy this zero responsibility, no time constraint, do whatever experience. I was out in a rental SUV called freedom and I could stop to see whatever I wanted, I could hike to the top of the falls, I could keep driving just to see what was around the next corner. I was enthralled by this new found freedom to just live, be, and rest.
I had a small feeling in my heart of, “I wish there was someone here to enjoy this with me.” Then I just felt completely captivated by a deep Truth. I was not on this adventure alone. I was walking along this path with the Creator of these moss covered trees. I could take solace in the quietness of solitude, but not abandonment.
I was able to have intimate fellowship with the One who knew exactly where every drop of the towering waterfalls would land. I could choose in that moment to praise in for this sacred moment. It was time to either dwell on the inconvenience of the day or revel in the calm, quiet whisper of my Lord’s love. I could allow the awe I felt in my heart at what I was encountering to be a conscious act of worship to give glory to the God who knows the delights of my heart. I was met in a new way by El Roi, my God who sees, along Route 30.
Along the way God answered many of my prayers. He allowed me to feel refreshed, to learn to find rest amidst my plans being foiled. He met my heart right where it was and showed me a portion of His endless love for me. He also showed His love in two small messages:
Girla would be arriving in the morning. It was later than I planned, but not a second later than HE planned. God knew that my heart had a huge lesson to learn. I have been trying to learn it for a while – I just needed to stop and be forced to rest in order to learn this lesson. God is so patient with me. He has a plan and it is perfect. Will I choose to trust Him? Will I choose to remember to walk with Him?
I ended my day with a quick trip into the Pearl District and yes, I did pop in. It was lovely. Overwhelming and larger than my town most likely, but lovely nonetheless.