Written by Mike Verkaik
What has God used to prune you in your handling of adversity? For me it has been my many trips to South Africa. As prepared, as I believe I am for every trip, the airlines seem to always create a new scenario to grow my capacity to surrender circumstances out of my control.
Last week as the team pulled into O’Hare airport, about 3 1⁄2 hours before our flight, I felt overly prepared for a smooth check in and entry through customs. We finished the preliminary check in process, and now waited for an attendant to come and finalize it. Passport? Check! Negative Covid test 72 hours prior? Check! Negative Covid test 48 hours before for Germany? What? Sir, we don’t need that, we are just flying through Germany. “Sorry, this is Covid, and things change, you will have to go across the street and get a rapid test. It takes a while to get the results, so it is going to be tight to make your flight,” said the attendant.
As I swallowed hard, my problem-solving mind revved into full motion as panic began to set in. My first reaction was, “We have got to go!” However, as I gathered the students and their bags altogether, pruning from past experiences were triggered as a song entering my mind.
In the valley I know your there with me and surely your goodness and your mercy follow me, so my weapons are praise and thanksgiving – this is how I fight my battles. And I believe you’ve overcome and I will lift my song of praise for what you’ve done. This how I fight my battles. (Upper Room)
Those are some of the unknown lyrics to the song Surrounded (Fight My Battles). Over the last few weeks I have been referencing and singing them quite a bit. The memories came from a conference at Bethel Church in Redding, California. What a revelation and pruning time it was for me as I listened to the words, so my weapons are praise and thanksgiving, for the first time. There in the midst of five thousand people God gave me a breakthrough into how to handle a personal storm, which I knew was spiritual battle that I was unequipped to fight.
Worrying was not the answer, neither was lashing out or getting angry. Believing that my Father has prepared a table for me, tells me He loves me, and has me in the palm of His hands was where I needed to go; where I desired to go as my small world came crashing in on me.
So, in the moment at the airport, instead of taking off to the testing center, I paused with the group, acknowledged our King, thanked Him for who He was and surrendered this situation to Him. Then, we took off at a fast pace to the testing sight.
Our difficulties were far from over after receiving our negative tests. The trials continued as the next agent required a South African health questionnaire we didn’t need, our bag tags did not print out, there was a strike at the airport in Paris and
they lost six of our seven bags, taking eight days for Ashley and Elijah to receive their bags.
Talk about experiencing some turbulence – put your seat belt on! Or just sing, praise, thank and trust a Father who is the good shepherd. Who will refresh your soul, guide you on the right path, tell you not to fear because He is with you, anoints you so your cup overflows and reminds you that His goodness and love will follow you, even through unpredictable airports.
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in Him. (Psalm 40: 1-3)