I usually pray for safety when I travel. But I’ve heard others ask for traveling mercies. I finally understand that means unexpected goodness in the middle of unfavorable circumstances.
The night before a recent trip I discovered that the route took me into La Guardia in NYC, and out of Newark, NJ. In a panic I called the booking company. Sorry, they couldn’t do anything about it. I called the airline. Sure, they could find me a more direct route--for an additional $600! Finally I found a shuttle service that ran between the airports, and I could probably make the cross town trip in the three hours I had between the flights. I prayed that I’d make my connection, and went to bed. The next day I checked in and hoped for a complimentary reroute. No go.
The flight departed on time--a good start. Even better, the small commuter jet flew up the Hudson River close enough to the Statue of Liberty to wave. What a thrill! On the ground, I found and paid for the shuttle--on my way within minutes. This was going great.
Plowing through traffic I felt prompted to pray for the multi-cultural people and neighborhoods I passed, the skyscrapers and the businesses inside of them. I felt connected to the city. Enjoying my mini tour, I laughed at the sign threatening a $350.00 fine for honking horns. Really, are there cops with time to run down a blaring Buick? And the guy wearing a shirt that said “New York City eats its young.” What's with that?
Mercy transformed my mistake into fun, and made me glad I’d missed another boring connection through Atlanta.
Six weeks later I headed west again. This time weather delayed my departure, and after two hours I knew I had missed my connection. I fretted, I stewed, I imagined that the subsequent flights would be full and I would be stranded. I wanted God to fix it.
The man sitting next to me stayed calm even though his cellphone conversation revealed he'd miss his connections to Belgium and Africa. Intrigued, I asked him the purpose of his trip. He was a pastor going to continue community development work in rural Africa that his church supported. I admitted that I believed in God, even though wasn't acting like it. I poured out my frustration and fear that I'd get stuck in New York. He said he would pray for me. Then, for a couple of peaceful hours, he answered my questions about the community development. The deprivations those people faced put my inconvenience in perspective.
Twice I experienced "traveling mercies."
Next trip I'll ask for the grace as I zip my suitcase, and look for it along the way.