Some may think it's strange that at the age of 38, I had never flown. To be honest, I don't know why I had not. Perhaps it's the fact that I have never lived within an hour of an airport. I can say it's cheaper for a family of five to drive to Florida than to fly down there.
And that's where all of our vacations are these days, isn't it?
On February 17, 2013, I woke up to this on my phone:
And oh, my goodness.
Look at that time.
Ever heard the phrase "Too excited to sleep"?
Yeah, I was not feeling it until I woke up and realized,
"I'm going to Disney TODAY."
Dan got up real early with me, loaded my things in his truck, and drove me to freezing, sleeting, snowy Raleigh. After a mild winter, we were finally having snow. The day I was to leave for Florida.
Now, lots of things really did not go well that morning. At the airport, I was chosen for the random pat-down (really? Do I look dangerous?) And just generally things weren't going right. Let me tell you this: the old me would have looked at that as being proof that this trip was doomed to failure. And this was not the only instance in the trip. You, my reader, will see that later. Finally, though, I was at the airport Starbucks with coffee in my hand looking at a plane.
And thinking, "What in the world am I thinking?"
When I finally boarded the plane, I was welcomed to a window seat with this view:
. . .and a dude in the seat next to me who obviously had the flu. He sneezed and sputtered and coughed the whole time. And I was thinking the whole time, "This is what I get for taking that earlier flight and missing church this morning." Either way, I turned from him and he turned from me, and either I have a great immunity right now or he wasn't contagious.
Before we left Raleigh, there was a plane de-icement (seriously? on my first flight) and we were off!
I remember the pilot saying we were over the Cape Fear River (Fayetteville, NC) and then looking down a bit later and realizing we were still over water. It took a little bit for me to realize that it was the Atlantic Ocean and Daytona Beach.
So the trip from Raleigh to Orlando?
You take off. Then you land.
Now, I'll have to admit this. When I saw the pictures of Orlando International Airport, I was a little nervous. I downloaded the maps and tracked my path. I don't know that it was really necessary, as these little signs were everywhere:
Either way, I skipped bag claims (thank you, Magical Express) and was soon on the bus.
For those of you who don't know, if you use Disney's Magical Express, you drop off your bags at the airport and then in theory, you don't see them again until you are checked in at the hotel. Either way, I trusted Disney to take care of my bags.
It was not long after I boarded the bus that we were heading through here:
And then, here:
We had a brief stop for Caribbean Beach on the way, but we got to POP Century just fine. When I got there, I was informed that my room was ready. So I went over and dropped my carryon off there:
No Magical Express had been there with the rest of my bags, so I headed over to Art of Animation for dinner:
(Grab shell, dude)
Make your own pasta.
This pasta meal until AoA was built was only available at the Port Orleans Riverside food court.
I moseyed back over to the room, and I thought the entire time, "You know, this is Disney, my bag will be there." I trusted Disney to have it there because they had never let me down.
I was not disappointed.
In life, we think of those metaphorical bags. The things that weigh us down. Our worries, anxieties, everything. I was anxious enough about my Disney bags that I did not pack my race day clothes in the bag that was to mysteriously reappear. I held some of that anxiety bag and attempted to take control over it. Sure, things would have been fine, but you know what? I can ask a thousand what ifs that would bring anxiety back to me today.
And what does the Bible tell us about anxiety?
"Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes?" Matthew 6:25 (NIV)
And in the Old Testament, my favorite verse:
" 'For I know the plans I have for you' declares the LORD. 'Plans to prosper you and not harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.' " Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
The backdrop of this is that it is at the beginning of a 70 year period of captivity of the Jewish people in Babylon. Think of how many people died over there and God's people the whole time trusting that they would be brought back home. Sure, they failed (all the time), but it's a lesson to us. God's plans are to prosper us, so worrying about what might or might not happen is not going to change things. And then, there are instances where you see the suffering of another and think, "How can God allow that to happen?" But for 70 years He left the Jews in exile and finalized this with the rebuilding of the temple and eventually Jesus' birth, death, and resurrection. I've learned I have to make a conscious decision not to question His decisions.
Do I fail in that? Of course.
Like packing a carry on and not fully trusting Him to deliver the rest of what I need to me, I walk around with little carry on bags in my arms, on my back, in my pocket. My prayer is that like I begin to trust that His providential express will deliver it all to me, because He, unlike Disney, is unfailing.