Not what I Anticipated …

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The Alaska State Ferry was late, so I also was late to arrive at my destination, at 8 pm instead of 7.  And that was the first sign that I would not get the relaxing evening I had anticipated.

And there I stood — outside the terminal, watching passengers leave in taxis and hotel vans.  And then suddenly — everyone on the ferry had gone and the lights of the terminal were going out.

I was concerned.

This terminal is “out the road” as they say in Alaska — and my Arizona cell phone was on roaming, and prompting me with a strange procedure to go through every time I tried to get calls out. The door of the terminal opened and the last employee looked out.  She asked about my predicament and offered to call the hotel again.

I was thankful.

They said someone was on the way.  She said she wouldn’t leave until they came.        No one came.

After awhile this nice employee called the hotel again, and offered to take me there herself if no one came for me.  That was reassuring.  We watched as headlights shone up the road and then passed by, and decided to wait 5 minutes more.

The van finally came, stopping along the side of the building, even though I was obviously the only one there out in front.  I left the terminal feeling very irked toward the driver.  It was now almost 9 pm.

I approached the driver with my story about all of the waiting and surprisingly the first thing he said was “Please forgive me” … which kind of shocked me and changed my mood.  Then he said “God bless you”, which was unusual in the situation.

So I said, “God bless you, too”.

He was sorry about what had happened, because I seemed like such a nice lady.  And I told him that I was actually about to be a bit angry and NOT very nice, until he said “forgive me” and “God bless you”, and that in my life things often happen that show me that God is involved in the situation.

He told me he was a believer.

It was probably not his fault;  I think they even sent him to the airport instead of the ferry a couple of times.  And between the ferry employee and the van driver, it seemed that God had been looking out for me.

So I was content.

On the way to the hotel, the driver told me he had just recently gotten the job at the hotel and had lived a hard life in a “Lower-48” city.  He was happy with his job and his new residence.

I ended up tipping him.

But when I finally got to the hotel, now after 9 pm — the guy at the desk said he had gotten only one call for the van.

I was irked.

Then he didn’t seem to know if I could print out my airline boarding pass even though I had just seen someone check in for their flight on the lobby computer.  But he didn’t know if there was any ink in the printer.

Maybe God was testing me now.

When I asked why as an employee he didn’t know these things, he said because no one had ever asked him that question before.

GERrr!

Well, that was not too surprising, as you had to call him out of his room by dialing his number on a phone in the lobby, even when I had checked in a week earlier — and that was not evening but mid-afternoon.

Next he told me to sign up for the airport shuttle to leave for the airport at 7:20 am, which was my boarding time.  He was willing to settle for 7:15, but I won the debate with 7. Still cutting it close, but the airport was nearby.

Once again I was irked– but remembered I had decided to be nice because of the van driver and the “God Thing”.

I got to my room, and a red Message light was beeping, so I called the front desk and the guy said, “Oh, that doesn’t mean anything.”  So I tried to ignore the blinking and attempted to turn on the TV.

I had to call again, as I had no idea how to get the two separate controllers to work together. But then who should appear at the door to figure it out for me but my van driver.  And I finally got to relax for a few hours.

But I have to admit … the only reason I didn’t fill out the Evaluation Card in the room, or an evaluation for Hotels.com (which would not have been good) … was because of the terminal worker, the van driver, and what I once more had to call —  “That God Thing”.

The Door

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I’ve had my share of trouble with doors … both in getting them to open and in keeping them closed.

More than once I have locked the key inside my house, and have had to climb in through the window. You see, the habit of carrying keys around is still new to me after living in a small village in Alaska for years, where I only locked the door at night and the old car key stayed permanently inserted into the ignition.

But even then, I had my problems with doors and locks.

I once locked my car with the engine running at the local “dump” by accidentally knocking down the old lock knob while getting out of my car. And with that old car key still safe and snug in the ignition, I found myself stranded outside in a place frequented by bears. The attendant had to close up shop to give me a ride home to find a spare key, as we were out of range for a phone call. And who knows when another car full of garbage might appear! But at least it didn’t happen further “out the road” (as Alaskans say), though I might have met a big Coastal Brown Bear out there willing to tear the car door off for me.

I didn’t have the best of cars In Alaska. They rusted out from exposure to sea salt, and things fell off of them … like the running board attached to my second-hand Bronco or the door handle off my little white Omni. I never did like that car. Before that I drove a red Subaru wagon that came with the church I served and had grown mushrooms on the floor of the front seat between pastors. But at least it would always start right up and make it through the snow.

The little white car couldn’t even make it up a slight incline when our roads and yards were covered with ice. Once it was stuck on a clear level portion of icy road right in front of the police station and I had to ask for help from the police. They asked why I didn’t have 4-wheel drive.

But the doors on that little white car were my biggest problem. One winter, one by one, they all just stopped working. First, the front door on the driver’s side wouldn’t open from the inside, and then it wouldn’t open from the outside either. Then the front seat passenger door began to have similar problems. And sometimes handles on both sides got together as a united front and made my life even more frustrating.

Once I picked up an elderly person who needed a ride, and because of just the right combination — neither one of us could get out of the car. We had to honk the horn to get rescued.

I finally resorted to tying a rope around the inside handle of the driver’s side (which had begun to work again), rolled down the window just a crack, and let the rope dangle out along the outside of the door, so I could pull on it to get back in. No problems in that small community of car theft — and no one would have wanted the dang thing anyway.

But now I live in a different world with a nice car that drives well and locks and unlocks to my touch alone on the handle … without even producing the key from my pocket. And my greatest fear is that I’ll lose or misplace that key, which some day might become my biggest frustration.

But although I have had my share of door frustrations, I guess that God must be having them too — both from His efforts to open some doors to us and from our efforts to keep them closed. But in His case, the key often lies with us.

There’s an interesting Bible verse where Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” But if you look closely at the popular painting by Warner Sallman that’s inspired by this verse, you’ll note there’s a knocker on that door, but no handle or door knob. The only door knob is on the opposite side of the door, which means that the door can only be opened from inside.

And that’s why the painting is called “Christ at Heart’s Door”.

But sometimes it’s as hard for God to get into our hearts as it was for anyone to get into my car. And at least I had extended a rope. But guess what?! God does the same … seeks us out, always ready to extend that rope to us, and continues to knock on the door of our hearts, even when we have shut that door up tight or even locked it.

Oh — there are a lot of reasons why we might want to close that door to Him. We may have been hurt and wonder where He was. It may even be hard to trust God, if we’ve found we can’t trust others or have been used, or mistreated by them. We might have even taken a little peek out the window and seen God standing there … but not yet be ready to break down that door between us and Him … that must be opened from within.

But don’t worry … God isn’t going anywhere.

But as for us, we all have another choice to make. We can close the door of our hearts to others for whatever reason, good or bad, and even lock them out — or we can choose to open the door of our hearts and invite them in … even if it means extending a rope to them down the side of the door. The key to THAT door is in OUR hands.

 

(Hello Readers. I would love to hear from you with Comments on my Posts, or with any questions you might have about me or my desire to share with you what I call “That God Thing”.)