Sunday, October 14, 2012

Missing The Boat

If given the choice, which of the two rooms shown above would you rather be staying in: an intensive care hospital room or an interior cabin of a Disney Cruise ship?

I know my choice, and probably yours, would be the stateroom.  But for a man who goes to my church, out of these two choices, a bed in the ICU unit turned out to be the best one.

While this isn't my testimony I feel that it's a strong and very real illustration of how God has his hand on our lives, actively protecting us on a daily basis. 

These events happened to a family from my church. I'm not going to use their real names so as to protect their privacy as much as I can while still telling their story. I will call them Paul, Tina, and Suzie Whitaker. Paul and Tina are married; Suzie is their 10 year old little girl. 

Paul has had many medical problems ever since he was in his 20's. The most prevalent of which was a benign brain tumor. 
He has had several strokes and many many more health issues which are on-going to this day. 

But Paul has never let his problems get him down. He is amazing in his faith in God, his attitude and courage.  

A couple of weeks ago on the Friday morning that was the unofficial start of the local school district's fall school break, the Whitaker's headed for the Nashville airport. 

They were going to catch a flight to Orlando, Florida on their way to Port Canaveral to board one of the Disney Cruise line ships. Their getaway was going to include a stop in the Cayman Islands. 

That morning the family was a little late arriving at the airport.  But they made it to the gate about 20 minutes before their flight was scheduled to leave. 

The airline employees at the gate told them that they could not board because all the other passengers had boarded and the plane doors had been closed. There was no way they were getting on that flight. 

Paul, Tina and especially Suzie were very upset. They were going to miss the departure of their cruise. 

The airline officials were nice about things. They offered to send them on another flight that would take them to the Cayman Islands where they could catch up with the cruise ship when it arrived. 

However, there was another problem. The airline's computers would not allow the booking agents to add Paul to the new flight. Tina and Suzie's information transferred but Paul's would not. 

Finally after some computer troubleshooting the whole family had been switched to the new flight.  But then there was another problem. 

The family only had their US Passport cards. This is a relatively new provision by the US government which allows those holding the card to enter Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean islands, Bahamas, and Bermuda by land only. The Whitakers could not fly into the Cayman Islands with their cards. They needed complete passports.    

Someone suggested they try getting the passports by a rush process through a private company that specialized in such services. They contacted that company. 

But the turnaround time for the passports wouldn't allow them to get to the Caymans before the cruise ship disembarked. 

The family stayed in Nashville over night hoping there would be a way they could make it to their cruise but as it turned out there was not. 

They came home that Saturday, tired, upset and disappointed. To say nothing of the money they had lost. 

On Sunday afternoon Paul told Tina he was not feeling well. This was something that was not uncommon given Paul's on-going medical issues. 

By Monday morning, Tina knew she had to take her husband to the emergency room. 

The doctors there determined that a stint Paul has in his brain to drain the fluid had become blocked. He had to have surgery right away. 

By Monday night he was in guarded but stable condition. Instead of an inside cabin on a Disney Cruise ship, Paul found himself in a bed in the intensive care unit. And that's right where he needed to be. 

For you see the surgeons told Tina that had Paul gotten on either of those planes he would not have survived being in the pressurized cabin. 

In addition had he been on the cruise ship in either the middle of the ocean or on the Cayman Islands he may not have gotten to emergency medical treatment in time. 

I have no doubt that the series of roadblocks preventing that family from going on their vacation were direct acts of God in Paul's life. 

Now as of the writing of this post, Paul is still in the hospital. He's had to have a 2nd surgery. But he is still on road to recovery. Most importantly he is still alive. 

When I told my sister this story just the other day she said that it gave her goosebumps. It's that kind of story. It's evidence of God's power in action. 

He takes an active role in each and every one of the lives of His children, every day.

This past week in my life I have had a pair of situations, of them extremely serious, that confirms for me that one of the most gracious things God does for us is save us from ourselves. 

So the next time you are trying to go somewhere or do something, even if it seems harmless at the time, and the path seems to be unusually blocked, pay attention. It may be God telling you a different path is best. 

And if you listen to Him and follow His leading you will never miss the boat.