Thursday, February 21, 2008

Young dumb and redeemed part Dva

Part 1 here

It was time for me to leave, finally. Skippy and I had hashed it out, in a scene in the Prague market that seemed so out of a movie that I appreciated the comedy of it even as my heart was racing. We had called a truce. Later, we would even forgive each other. I had had a decent vacation in this beautiful city, and because I wandered around it alone so much, I really got to know and love Prague.

But I had never been so desperate to get back home in my life.

Because I was flying on free miles, I had an overnight layover in Milan. I checked my luggage in and spent the night in a motel, then took a taxi to the airport the next morning. This was pre 9/11, when I only needed to be at the airport about an hour and a half ahead of my flight, on which I would be seated in coach. Free coach – wherever they wanted to stick me. Beggars can’t be choosers.

The problem is, I was in Milan. If you have never been to Italy, well. Efficiency is not Italy’s primary goal. Nothing is made easy for you in Italy.

I was a little late, but still had plenty of time. The airport’s few signs were in Italian so I asked someone which line I should stand in to get my boarding pass. I stood in line for forty five minutes, got up to the front, and was told, rudely, that I was in the wrong line.

Now I was getting a bit worried – my plane was due to leave in thirty minutes. I went to the other counter where I had been directed and tried to get in line, but the line was more like a seething mob. Someone was on strike – someone is always on strike in Italy – and some flights had been canceled. I stood in the line for twenty minutes until I reached the front. The woman at the counter, who had been fending off the seething mob, said to me, ‘You are at the wrong counter. You must go over there to that counter and stand in line.” “But my plane is leaving in ten minutes! I was told to come here! This is the second time I was told to go to the wrong place!” I still remember her snapping at me, in her Italian accent, ‘This is not my problem. You must go see my colleague at the other counter. Go! Go!” At which point I burst into tears, but Heart of Stone -Heart of Italian Marble? - had no mercy.

I looked at the other counter, with its own seething mob, and knew that I would never make my flight if I stood in line again. Spending another day here was unthinkable. I had to get home. Sobbing, I took off running to the gate, because that was my only chance. It took a good five minutes for me to get there.

I reached my gate and the plane had already boarded. The woman at the counter said, “Hmm, there are no more coach seats available,” and I totally lost it - full on ugly cry. She looked at me with – could it be compassion? Yes! I saw compassion in her eyes! and said, “Don’t worry, I’ll get you on, don’t worry.” I thanked her, I wanted to kiss her feet. “It’s nothing. It’s ok. Are you ok? It’s ok. Here is your boarding pass. I put you in first class.”

Oh, yes she did. First class. From Milan to Chicago. First class. In my grungy sweatpants. First class. For free. First Class.

I got on board, and thanked God profusely. What an ending to this crazy trip. Once more I repented of trying to make a relationship work with Skippy, of not seeking his counsel, of not obeying his law. And the Holy Spirit whispered to me:

“You are running yourself ragged for coach. Just trust in me, Missy, I am sending you first class. Wait and trust me.
I’m putting you in first class.

I was unaware of it at the time, but Prague was the beginning of a season in my spiritual life. I was about to enter into the Refiner's fire. God had big plans for the year to come, and I believe he was making his presence very known to me as he prepared to consume some of my dross.

The refining ended in March of 2001. I think I will post about that sometime later. It's a good story. God has done amazing work in this little wisp's life.

A year and a half later, I got my first class ticket, my Ton O'Bricks. And I didn't have to work for it, didn't have to travel the world to find him. He came to me.

Praise be to God. I'm so glad I didn't get the cheap seats.

:)


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