You know that expression, “We plan; God laughs”? Sometimes, I think He has a special version of it for me: “Steffi plans, and God doubles over and rolls around the floor of heaven guffawing hysterically.” Not quite as catchy (or theologically correct), but the point is clear. Basically, no matter how much I structure my life, no matter how thoroughly and assiduously I work, and no matter how much I try to expect the unexpected, God enjoys turning my plans on their head. And generally speaking, my plans don’t like headstands. However, as uncomfortable, frustrated and freaked out as I feel, God always, always, always comes through. And His “divine redirections” always turn out better than my original, bullet-pointed, cross-referenced plan.
Case in point: My trip to the Passion conference in Atlanta. “Epic” redefined. So buckle your seatbelts and get ready for this wild ride (puns intended). Here goes…
Before I begin, I should preface this story by saying that I wasn’t planning on being one of the 44,000+ students going to Passion 2012 at the Georgia Dome. However, just like coming to the Kanakuk Institute and so many other incredible things in my life, the things I avoid often turn out to be exactly what I needed most. Having said that, I didn’t officially buy my ticket to Passion until the middle of December, only three weeks before the event. Why did I drag my indecisive feet? Well, one major reason was the cost. While I could afford the registration and I had a friend to stay with once I got to Atlanta, I didn’t have $350+ for airfare to get there. Then, lo and behold, I found a ride with some sorority sisters from OSU. I bought my ticket, thanking God that He had so surprisingly provided a ride.
At this point, He chuckled. Little did I know how little I knew about His surprises.
Fast forward to December 23rd. Passion starts the evening of January 2nd, so I contacted my sorority sister to work out some details of the trip, i.e. when we were leaving, when we would get back, etc. However, it soon became abundantly clear that this would be a very complicated trip. I could still go with them, but we would all be much better off if I could find a different ride.
Cue my 1st “freak out” moment. And God’s second divine chuckle. It’s less than 2 weeks before Passion, and I have no way to get there.
“That’s okay,” my family reminds me. “You still have time, and God is going to work everything out. You just need to start looking for another ride. Don’t worry!”
So I worry. And start contacting people. Lots of people. As in, everyone I know from Kansas, Oklahoma, St. Louis, Memphis, Arkansas, the Institute (which isn’t a city or state; sorry for any confusion) who might possibly know someone –or know someone who knows someone—who was going to Passion and might be able to offer me a ride. Approximately 48 hours and 58 text messages later, nothing.
Cue my 2nd “freak out” moment. And God’s 3rd divine chuckle. I’ve exhausted all my relational resources, and I still don’t have a ride. I even contacted my friend’s little sister’s boyfriend and asked him to ask his friends. Nothing.
Then on Christmas night, it hits me (Not literally like the disc during a game of Ultimate Frisbee on Monday. Ouch.) “I’m on Twitter; I have a Facebook,” I think to myself. “Connecting with new people—isn’t that what social networking is all about? Well, it’s at least worth a shot.” Taking a deep breath and saying a “here goes” prayer, I log into my Twitter account. In the search bar, I type @passion286generation and press enter: 5,379 hits. Not very helpful. “Hmmm, what if I narrow it down by location?” So I add the filter of “near Kansas City.” And Enter.
2 hits. A guy and a girl. Cool.
Then I switch tabs to my Facebook page. I look up both of them. The girl (Katie?): 0 mutual friends. The guy (Andrew Matthew Wermselknacken [*name changed slightly]): 2 mutual friends + a curly blonde afro. This might be promising…
“Alright, Lord. This is it.” Exhaling slowly, I write him a message explaining my situation and that I really, really, really need a ride. Less than an hour later, I check my inbox. Not only has he replied, but he tells me that his group is driving! And that I should give him a call. Say what?!
So I call him. And to my utmost surprise, not only is he driving with a group from Kansas City, but he also has room for me to ride along! We’d leave from Kansas City on New Year’s and drive overnight to Atlanta. Sweet! If I can give $50 to help with gas, then we’ll be set! Speechless (except for the laugh rising involuntarily from my soul), I hang up the phone. God had provided a ride for me—and with someone with a really cool German last name, to boot!
Fast forward a few days. Plans change slightly. I’m meeting them in Springfield instead to pick up a large church van, which will give us more room for the long drive. My friend Kyle from OSU is also going to join us here. Awesome!
Skip to New Year’s Day. Approximately 1:30 p.m. Cue Andrew’s phone call… and God’s 3rdgiggle at my expense.
“Hi, Steffi, ummm, so we have a problem. The guy we were meeting in Springfield woke up sick. He’s not going to Passion anymore, so we won’t be going through Springfield. The good news is we still have room for you and your friend. The bad news is that it’s going to be a really tight squeeze… and Kyle needs to get to Kansas City by 8 tonight for us to leave.”
Alright. The thought plickens. (Like the “plot thickens” haha…. Get it?)
Immediately, I call Kyle. Immediately, he packs his things and drives 5 hours to Kansas City. He arrives at my house, and my dad immediately takes us to our meeting point at Denny’s. Then we immediately cram ourselves and our stuff into an itty bitty Ford Freestyle (7 seats = me + 6 guys) to begin our epic adventure road trip to Passion. Which was awesome.
This post is already getting long, so I’ll spare you the details of the trip itself and the experience at Passion. But I’ll sum it up with this lesson:
God is intimately involved in the details of our lives, and He always provides… often in the most unexpected ways. While I was freaking out about getting to Passion, God knew all along what He was doing. If you would have told me when I bought my Passion ticket that I would find my ride via Twitter and Facebook, I probably wouldn’t have purchased it. But God’s plan is infinitely better than mine, and He works things out perfectly, according to His timing and His plan. Now looking back, I can’t help but chuckle along with Him. I not only got to go to Passion, but I made some amazing new friends along the way: Andrew “Werm” who has an incredible, active, and inspiring faith (and a love for making fun of SMU and TCU); Aaron who experiences God in awesome ways every day; Scotty who loves life, Jesus… and Waffle House (thanks for the laughs!); Brett and Jacob who love music and who are actively growing closer to Jesus. And then of course, Kyle (aka Blondie), my OSU buddy who is a wonderful friend and brother in Christ.
So here’s the moral of this long and drawn-out story: Next time life takes an unexpected twist, look to Him for a solution… and then listen closely. You just might hear Him laugh. 🙂