Write by:

It was a beautiful place, and a wonderful vacation: Italy!  We recently spent nine glorious days in one of my favorite cities in the world, Florence. Our circle was small; we stayed in one place, walked everywhere, and were in a neighborhood stacked with cafés, shops, art, music and the wonderful Florentines…and a lot of tourists from out-of-town.  It was unfathomably hot (above one-hundred degrees, Fahrenheit, most days.) 

Then it came time to leave.

As always, I pray for a safe, non-eventful, trip and flight(s).  God has never failed to answer with remarkably easy trips. And you all know how I hate any sort of transition or waiting.  Of course, this time, it was transcontinental…which is a whole different story…this one took two days of prayers prior.  I even thought about fasting (though not for long). 

Do you know what happened?

God said, “I’m sorry, I can’t guarantee that this time…but trust Me.”  “Really God?  I’m not sure I understand, but alright…I know the universe doesn’t revolve around me.” 

As much as I didn’t want to believe God would reply as He did, I knew from the moment I prayed my safety prayer that we were going to be in for a bumpy ride. I heard His answer clearly, and didn’t want to believe it.

We decided to arrive much earlier than our flight, and booked a taxi the night before to make certain we had lots of time at the airport.  The next morning our taxi company texted to tell us our reservation was not confirmed.  I called two taxi companies to be told there were no taxis in our area and the best thing to do was to walk, with our luggage, to the nearest taxi stand three blocks away (it was already ninety-degrees, at nine-thirty in the morning).  We did, and waited for another forty-five minutes to share a taxi with a poor university student also trying to get back to The States.  It seems there was a “taxi strike”. Of course.

“Really God?  I’m not sure I understand, but alright…I know the universe doesn’t revolve around me.”

We arrived at the teeny (one runway) Florence airport to be met with crowds of people, and a young guy at check-in who told us our gate was already closed. I asked him to please call the gate. He did.  He told us to run.  We didn’t, but we DID walk fast.  We found our gate…it was packed with people waiting to get on our flight (we needn’t have walked fast). One-hour and thirty-minutes later, we left the runway.  We arrived in Amsterdam just in time to miss our connecting flight to NYC. 

“Really God?  I’m not sure I understand, but alright…I know the universe doesn’t revolve around me.” 

They graciously gave us food vouchers, tram vouchers, hotel vouchers, re-booked our flight for the next day (Saturday) and sent us off to our hotel (vouchers in hand) along with HUNDREDS of other stranded passengers.  One night in Amsterdam.  We would take off in the morning.

Two hours after arriving in the hotel room the pain started; a low-grade ache in my stomach.  It grew over the next couple of hours to a relentless pain that was at least as bad as the time I had a kidney stone.  I couldn’t lay down, I couldn’t sit down, I could only pace, bang my head against the wall, hold a frozen can of COKE against my stomach and pray to die. It lasted for eight hours through the night…no sleep.  By the time emergency numbers were being looked up the pain started to subside enough that I could lie down, and then doze, and then sink into unconsciousness.

“Really God?  I’m not sure I understand, but alright…I know the universe doesn’t revolve around me.” 

Needless to say, I couldn’t fly the next day; weak, tired, confused, in and out of sleep.  We were re-booked again, and finally left on Sunday.  I slept the entire seven-hour trip.  When arriving home nothing has ever felt as good as sitting on my corner of my couch, kittens on my lap.  I called the twenty-four-nurse-hotline (a benefit of being over sixty-five!) After some consultation, some questions from her, she said I wasn’t the first person she had dealt with, having similar questions that week…she was certain, after knowing where I had been, and asking me what seemed like “unrelated symptom” questions, that what I suffered from was an attack of severe dehydration…and suddenly it all made sense.  Everything seemed to clear up rapidly the moment I got an infusion of electrolytes.

Then she said something that remarkably brought the entire weekend into focus…”Well, someone was watching out for you.  If that had happened during the flight, this might be a completely different story…FOR EVERYONE on that flight.” 

And then, I could see what happened in my little world might have adversely affected everyone flying with me, and even my own health, IF we had gotten a taxi in a timely fashion, IF the Florence airport was empty and running smoothly, and IF we had made our flight to NYC…it certainly would be a different story. 

Suddenly, God’s “Sorry, not this time.” became the answer to prayer I didn’t even know I should be praying. 

Again, the universe does not revolve around me.  My little pain and struggles don’t balance out the pain and struggles of those around me, or the pain and struggles of the world…but for a moment I saw this miracle: 

God loves EVERYONE.  But God treats EVERYONE as if each were THE ONLY ONE. 

This story is NOT about me.  It is yet another chapter in the on-going book: “Father knows best.”  Sometimes we ask God for something, but the greatest answer He can give, for our total well-being and the well-being of those around us, is: “Sorry, not this time.” 

ME: “Really God?  I’m not sure I understand, but alright…I know the universe doesn’t revolve around me.”
GOD: “But YOU are MY universe. You are my everything…so, trust Me.”