My husband was kind and generous enough to send me on a weekend conference to Minnesota to participate in the Desiring God Conference, entitled "The Power of Words and the Wonder of God." Speaking in a godly, edifying manner and knowing when to be silent, would be a real weakness for me so when I was made aware of the subject of this conference, I felt a pull to go.
I quickly learned as I set off for Minnesota - alone - that our "plan B" is really God's "plan A" for us. Let me explain.
As I arrived at my hotel, that boasted of a free shuttle service to the convention center, I was informed that a reservation was necessary. I compared the times I needed to be at the conference with the times that the shuttle was available and they didn't match up except for once. I panicked. I went upstairs to my room, unloaded my stuff, and flopped on the bed, practically in tears and wishing I had just paid more to stay in the city which was closer to everything. I didn't even pray.
I went back downstairs to talk with the front desk with the thought of staying just one night at this hotel and then transferring to another - although I figured most of the reasonable hotels in the city would be booked.
Agnes is a short, zealous, Filipino woman who approached me while I was talking to the clerk about my options. She seemed to come out of nowhere. Before I could even finish my conversation with the clerk, she jumped in and asked if I was having problems with getting to the conference at the necessary times. Tired and discouraged, I quickly explained my dilemma to her - the same dilemma she found herself in. Her suggestion, as if I was asking her for one: how about if we room together somewhere in the city close by the convention center and split the cost. I didn't hesitate to even think it through. "Yes!" I told her. Without a second to spare, she began calling hotels - all of which were booked like we anticipated - but thankfully, because of a connection she had with Double Tree, was able to set us up in a gorgeous room only 10 blocks away at the Hotel Minneapolis. It was then that I remembered that Matt had prayed that I would have divine appointments on this trip. Before I could share this with Agnes, she told me that she had been praying in her room about what to do and asking God for a divine appointment and direction. That's when I entered her world. So, what would have been plan B for me, was plan A according to God. And, plan A meant that I was going to room with a complete stranger!
A strange thing to pray...
During the weeks that led up to the conference, I began praying for 3 simple things. Two were kind of unimportant but just things I wanted to ask the Lord for, because I know that He cares about the small details of our lives and loves to bless and surprise us. One of these desires was that I would get a chance to meet Abraham Piper (one of John Piper's sons) and thank him for his insightful blog, 22 Words. I wasn't sure how this would happen but after the first day, I stopped looking for him amidst the crowds. Saturday evening, while talking to Matt on a break, I saw the back of someone pushing a stroller that looked like it could be Abraham. I hung up rather hastily with Matt, and walked over to see if it was him and sure enough, it was! I introduced myself and thanked him and asked him some questions about his blog. I also got to meet his newest son, Morrow. How kind of God to arrange this short but meaningful time for me!
On Sunday afternoon, I was more than ready to head home. My heart was aching to see Matt and the kids and it seemed like I had been gone for weeks. I missed holding Azariyah and playing with Diamonte and I hated being away from Stephen and Abbie. My heart was literally racing with anticipation to see them. I got to the airport in plenty of time to check in and walk around. It wasn't long after I reached my gate when the announcement was made that our 4pm flight to Philadephia was pushed back to 6pm and maybe even 7pm due to weather delays in Philly. This meant I would miss my connecting flight to Baltimore. Ugh. They changed my tickets around and I was re-routed to Charlotte, NC with a connecting flight to Baltimore leaving at 10:25. Oh well - at least I was on my way home. The flight to NC turned out to be a wonderful time as I was seated next to a missionary that attended the conference. He and his family live in Peru and are involved with reaching an indigenous tribe in the mountainous regions. This was his first trip home in 6 years. Our conversation flowed well and we discussed what we learned at the conference. Very nice surprise!
Then came the flight to Baltimore.
Enter Amos. Amos is a 49 year old, African American man, sporting a bald head and gold hoop earring. I was on the aisle seat and he ended up being in the middle seat next to me. When I opened my newest John Piper book, "Spectacular Sins," to read, he plugged in his earphones to listen to Al Green. He rested his head back to sleep and I leaned forward to read and underline stuff. Of course when you are reading a Piper book, most of what you read gets underlined, even in the introduction alone. Within a few minutes after take-off, he asked me what I was reading and then he asked me what a spectacular sin was! I found myself explaining the crux of Piper's point for writing this book which led into a discussion about God's sovereignty over sin - to accomplish purposes for his glory. Amos wanted to know more. In fact, he asked me what I underlined in the book and why. So, I began taking him through the introduction, reading him the underlines sections and sharing why that was of importance to me. What an easy transition to sharing the gospel with this curious man. We spent the entire flight talking about the implications of the gospel (I don't think he was saved) and he was delighted to answer the questions I asked him about his life. As the plane was descending, he told me that in all of the flights he's been on in the past five years (and he flies alot b/c he works for US Airways), he has never stayed awake for more than a few minutes. He thanked me for the conversation and told me I was an angel. I figured I'd more than likely never see him again, so I asked him if he would accept the book I was reading as a gift. I apologized for giving him a book with underlined marks and notes on the sides of the page -but he was thrilled. Having marks made it more special to him. He gripped it in his hands and said he was going to begin reading it right away.
Plan A, my plan, was to get on my flight to Philly at 4pm. Plan B, which was really God's plan A, was for me to be on the Charlotte flight to Baltimore. After all, Amos was there.