Stuart was driving me down to the airport in Milwaukee to go to Dallas before he went on to South Africa. I stuffed some mail and a jar of honey I had been given for some of our grandkids into my carry-on purse and ran into church on the way to the airport to leave the items on his desk to be picked up. I left the letters, but forgot to leave the honey.
I had forgotten I had forgotten the honey, so boarded the plane to Dallas unaware of the fact that before I got off the flight, the honey would have left the jar and happily coated everything in my big carry-on purse! I had taken my computer out of the big computer bag, as it was a small plane, and I wanted to put the larger bag in the hold. In the pocket of the small computer bag, were three hard copy chapters of a book I was writing on Ecclesiastes that I wanted to edit on the journey. Unaware of the sticky mess underneath my seat, I gathered my things together as we landed in Dallas and opened my carry-on to get out the information I needed to meet up with the people picking me up. Ugh!!!
I made a beeline for the ladies room and began furiously washing off what I could and stuffing paper towels in the sticky mess that was left, wondering if the people were still waiting on their guest speaker to turn up. I did the best I could and ran down the escalator to the baggage claim, not realizing in my haste that I had left the computer on the washbasin!
I didn't discover it until I got to my engagement two hours away! Fred, my gracious host, looking at my horrified face simply said, "You've come here to talk about 'Prayer That Works' Jill, let's do it!" Fred then prayed for my lost computer that held so much of my writing, sermons, and work (not all backed up) recorded in its clever little memory. Thus began three days of ministry punctuated with frantic calls to DFW that proved fruitless and frustrating. We discovered that lost items from the terminal were sent to another terminal to another 'Lost and Found' -- but not until Friday! (I had arrived on Sunday.) They were put in a lock box on the concourse where they were discovered, until Friday rolled around and then transported to another terminal. I couldn't get a real live person to go and unlock the box and look inside! I had to go on to another speaking engagement by this time.
Between teachings from Philippians about how to overcome worry, rejoice in trouble, and enjoy the peace that passes understanding, I called every security guard I could get a hold of to no avail.
When we eventually got hold of a real person, we were told the famous 'lock box' that just might contain my precious computer was on the other side of the airport from the lost and found place we were talking to! There was no thought of them going back to look for us.
"It's all the way over the other side of the airport," they informed us, with hurt in their voices. "Get the train," I wanted to shout into the phone, "like we passengers do!" There was nothing to do but continue to preach on patience and forbearance to hundreds of women who seemed to be perfectly patient and forbearing (unlike me), and wait until I had to leave.
Finally on my final morning in Dallas after searching and searching, I tracked down the famous lock box by gate 1 where I had come in and where I was leaving, and gazed hungrily at the padlock. I only had 20 minutes to catch my plane. I looked at the gate thinking I'd beg anyone to hold the plane and open the box or find someone else who had been trained to do it (how hard can it be?), and saw that there was no one at the desk. I looked at the monitor and discovered my flight had been changed from gate 1 to gate 10! I know had only 15 minutes to catch my flight.
I lumbered down the corridor, like a plane that was too old and too heavy to get off the ground, and then arrived at gate 10.
"You're out of breath," one of the desk people said accusingly! I spluttered, "Well I lost my computer on Sunday and I have been looking on every wing of this airport. I didn't have a chance to look in the lock box by the gate I came in at because you changed the gate to number 10...
"What is your computer like?"asked the other agent.
"It's a Compaq."
"Name on it?"
"No," I said, "but there is a file in the pocket with Ecclesiastes on it." Seeing the blank faces I muttered, "It's a book in the Bible."
"I have your computer," said the agent! "It's in my personal locker." I was struck dumb. "It was brought to me Sunday night," she said. "I couldn't find a name on it, but I looked in the file in the pocket and said to my friend, 'This person is writing about God! This is a important computer. I must find the person.'"
For two days this woman tried to trace me through old Delta tickets she found stuffed in the pocket of the computer from previous flights. She got a phone number from Delta and tried to phone my home, but the number Delta found for her was not right and she got no reply!
"Why didn't you put it in the lock box?" I asked, clutching my computer.
"They only pick it up every Friday," she answered, "and I didn't want to chance leaving it there."
I thanked her, making little appreciative sounds, gushing loving sentiments, and wanting to adopt her . I got on the plane, finally. Five minutes later she arrived at my seat and said in a loud voice, "You must understand I would have turned your computer in on Friday. I just wanted to find you and make sure you got it back." Then, loudly, "As I said to my friend, 'She's writing about God!'"
Then she left, leaving half the people around me hastily diving behind their newspapers, and the rest gazing at this elderly lady sitting stunned in her seat, clutching my precious work and marveling at such an incredible answer to prayer.
All this to say, that despite my irresponsibility, the Lord continues to take such good care of me. He answers prayers I neither deserve or have earned. It's all grace! It also amazes me that God goes to such lengths to turn our failings into blessings for others, and I think of the three chapters of Ecclesiastes read by people who perhaps would never know about the wonderful words of Solomon, who found purpose and meaning not in wealth and riches, but in fearing the living God.
I think, too, of how God hates losing things that are precious to Him and understands when we lose things that are precious to us -- and how He is a seeking and finding God. I am encouraged by His care for the details of our lives and how He answers the cries of His children.
Just Between Us