Thank God When Lessons are Learned

by Rev. Joe Hoover

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In the Fall of 1972, while attending Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, I learned a valuable lesson about living what you teach. At that time I was leading a small Bible study group across the street at Asbury College. I used Romans.8:28 as my text. After the Bible study I was given a chance to put what I had taught into practice.

A friend from Miami, Florida had been visiting me on that weekend. He was a young Christian and had been very inspired by the Bible study I led. His plane was to fly out of the Lexington Airport at 5 pm that Sunday afternoon, following the Bible study. It is a 45 minute drive to the airport and we left with two hours before takeoff. We thought we would use that time to talk before his trip home. About 3:45 we arrived in the airport parking lot. After parking, we knew we had plenty of time, so we began a deep conversation about his job, future and spiritual life. About 4:10 we walked into the airport to check-in for his flight. When we got to the airline ticket agent, my friend said, "I left my ticket on the dash of your car." So we quickly ran out to the car -- only to find my keys in the ignition and the car doors locked.

Frantically we ran back inside and explained the situation to the airline manager. He said that without the ticket he could not put my friend on the plane. So, I rushed over to the phone booth and called my dorm. Standing there, waiting for my roommate to come to the phone, seemed like an eternity. I just knew that he could jump into his car and bring me my spare set of keys. By this time it was 45 minutes until take-off, the exact time it takes to travel the distance from the seminary to the airport. As my heart beat faster, I quickly tried to explain the situation to my roommate so he would get the keys to the airport quickly. His words sent me reeling. He said, "Joe, when you left for the airport, I was in the shower and you locked me out of our room. I can't get in because our dorm representative has gone to the library. I'll try to get in and bring you the key."

My friend and I walked out to the locked car to wait for my friend's arrival. We saw him arrive about 40 minutes later. The only trouble was, as he drove up to the car the plane took off from the runway! There I was, sorry my friend had missed his plane. My roommate looked disheveled and was sorry he couldn't have gotten there sooner. My friend, the young Christian, turned to me and said, "Maybe God just wanted us to trust Him that it will all work out."

During that whole episode, we had not stopped to pray. We relied on our own ingenuity and abilities to handle the problems. All our attempts had failed. Why was it only then that we stopped to turn it over to God? Had I not just taught the lesson- "All things work together for good . . . " In front of the locked car, my friend, my roommate and I held hands and prayed, releasing all the anxiety that had built up and putting the whole situation into the hands of God. When we walked back into the airport and asked about the next flight, the manager said there would be a flight early Monday morning, but that the flight was usually booked solid. He checked, only to say, "You're in luck -- there is one seat that just opened up on that flight."

As the three of us shared in the dorm that night, we realized how we had missed a perfect chance to put our lesson into practice. We hoped to never forget this lesson. But there was more.

On the trip home the next day, my friend remembered the prayer he had made when flying up to Lexington on Friday night. His prayer was, "I wish I could fly in the day-time so I could see the beautiful world that you have created." God used our mistakes to answer that prayer.

First printed in The American Night Watch Newsletter, Volume V, Part 12, December 1997.

Copyright 1999 Joe Hoover. All Rights Reserved.

The American Night Watch is a trademark of the Christian ministry of Sterling M. Durgy.

Permission is granted to reprint this article as long as the copyright is included, this statement is included, and the article is not sold to the recipients.

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This page was last updated October 22, 1999.