As a college student, I traveled with an international program (Tri-S program at Anderson Univ) to various countries. The motto the organization asked us to carry with us on trips was this: “be infinitely flexible.” If you’ve traveled internationally, you know that this is key. (The Greek key in this case… wocka wocka…) It unlocks an ability to relax with logistical changes (which are inevitable), willingness to try new foods and truly experience the culture, and, mostly, to possess a pliable heart.
So, I left Noblesville on Sunday morning right on time – 6:30am. No stranger to bribing my children for their timely obedience, I really should’ve given myself a treat. (Actually, I couldn’t because I’ve already swiped all of the chocolate out of their Easter baskets.) We stopped by my parents’ house, which was right on the way to the airport and gave smooches and prayed together. Then we (McHusband, all of the McBabies, and myself) drove to the airport. I tried not to take it personally that my kids were so eager to stay at their grandparents that they were reticent to come with me to the airport. On my way there, I texted my travel companion and said “see you soon!”
She said, “We are boarding first class.” My first thought was – Cool! We got bumped up to first class?!? No, no. She meant that our flight was actually boarding first class already and leaving in 30 minutes. “What?!?”
I had checked my itinerary multiple times – 9:55am departure. While I did see a list go out a few days before with the list of people leaving from Indy– and my name was on it – I did not know that we all had the same itinerary. So, I reviewed my own itinerary and figured I’d be meeting up in New York. I had not received the standard text from Delta or the email or anything stating that the time had changed. This is, I believe, the 21st country I’ve visited – this ain’t my first rodeo. Yet, still, I knew something had gone awry.
Sure enough, I got online and saw that I had missed my flight. Bleepity bleep bleep. $%@&. I started to feel my default panic mode begin and then I told panic to get thee behind me as the Lord had gone before me.
I spoke with the
scrooge helpful lady at the Delta counter and showed her my itinerary. Of course she said that my flight had been changed and had just left. Then she searched and searched and said that she wouldn’t be able to get me to New York until the next day due to the very full flights. I can’t say that I always – or even normally – pray this way, but I knew with all of my heart and soul that God wanted me on this trip. I prayed that the Lord would work out the details right away, right on the spot and alert this stoic kind woman to a helpful solution. I asked her where things stood. She said that she could get me to La Guardia airport where I’d pick up my luggage and I could then figure out transportation over to JFK.
Great news. So, I had about 15 minutes to get down to my gate to make that first plane. It was no problem on a Sunday morning in Indy. Normally a terrible airline passenger, I was completely at peace. I got to La Guardia and opted for a van shuttle to JFK. Because I had my luggage in tow, I had to go through ticketing and security again at a very busy airport, but whaddya know? I ended up beating everyone there by 2 hours.
I had time to get my magazine. My baby sis had given me money to buy magazines before my flights knowing it was one of my favorite my simple pleasures. I had time to eat, just sit alone, and think about the trip on the forefront.
Fast forward… met beautiful Greek people with whom I sat on the way to Rome, had 2 more flights, a shuttle, and then we were finally at the hotel in Thessaloniki in the late afternoon. Opa!
We forced ourselves to stay awake though we’d been awake since 5am the day before. Oh, the exhaustion. It’s just part of international travel.
I could go on and on and on about flexibility, but I just want to give you the context of getting to this beautiful place.
There are plenty of things that I could write about even in the one day that we’ve had here, but I want to focus on Philippi and, more specifically, the place where it’s believed that Paul was imprisoned.
About a year and a half ago, I posted a video on You Tube and on my FB page of my precious McBaby #2 at age 3 reciting the story of Paul and Silas in jail from his children’s bible. He had memorized 4 pages worth of the story and loved to “read” it to us. He has always had a love for Scripture, even in these early years. He would tell the story with such enthusiasm. “They sang so loudly that the chains fell off!”
Isn’t this the way it is? When we worship, when we surrender, when we call out to the Lord, when we yield to His presence, when we come open-handed, the chains fall off! We are free! We march to and sing our songs of freedom!!!
Today we visited the tomb of Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great. While there, we saw remnants of burial items in glass cases. They’ve been preserved from the early 300s! One of these items was an ivory carving of Pan. Pan was believed to be the Roman god and demon – half man, half goat – that would cast fear over enemies in war. His presence in a tomb accompanied the shield and weaponry that would be with a king. This name tells us the root for our word panic.
I spoke of panic earlier. And the absence of it. Perhaps it can be considered the opposite of freedom in many ways.
Seeing the place where Paul was imprisoned, where he was shackled and bound, was unbelievable. To put this story in a tangible, historical context and see the spot where the gospel was fleshed out was incredibly powerful.
We all must choose the rhythm to which we march. Pan’s flute can be intoxicating, but those of us who worship God know that He will bring even earthquakes to break our shackles and set us free.