It was 4:25 a.m. and the crew members had changed shifts. “Pull yourself together! If I started crying now the waterworks would never stop,” I mumbled. “And what if someone hears me, I yelled. “Pull it together, already. I can overcome this debacle.” Thankfully, no one had entered the bathroom on that cold winter’s morning except me. I was the only guest who arrived in the morning and stayed all day long. Even the homeless guy washed up, changed his clothes and left, but not I. Only time would tell if I could survive my recent disaster. My daily prescription of prayer and a good pep talk could normally set me back on track in any situation. But, now my subconscious thoughts threatened to propel me to another level of fear. This was my lowest moment. I began to questioned the decision that led to this demise, until now, I had remained relatively calm and resourceful.But now I was alone and out of money. I had ventured bravely through the dark night to Montclair, New Jersey, one of the wealthiest cities in America. I took a gamble when my heart tasked me with a mission to help others. But now, I couldn’t even help myself. My mission was a failure. There was no white knight to save me. And so there I sat, hunched over the bathroom stall of the restaurant and sobbed.
It had been three days, six hours, and forty-three minutes since I left the sunny hillside of Dallas for the brutally cold Newark, New Jersey. What promised to be an exciting trip filled with faith, fashion, and charity quickly left me longing for the comforts of home. Hurricane Sandy devastated the New Jersey area. Among other things, the storm destroyed many residents basic clothing items. My solo mission involved helping fellow Americans find their way back to normal life, through faith and fashion, of course. I planned to do whatever needed to be done. Well, it seemed God had a different strategy in mind.My mission to help others would in fact never took flight because no one needed my help. Shocking, I know- but I went everywhere and searched and searched. . One charity said I could fill out a volunteer form and come back next week! I was shocked! I left my life to help now, and now was too soon? During the course of three days I became violently ill with flu-like symptoms. As if that wasn’t enough, I soon discovered money goes further in Texas than New Jersey. With a virus threatening my body, leaving New Jersey was the best option.
Unfortunately, the airline wouldn’t change my flight without a huge change fee. It felt as though my situation was drifting from bad to worse, but all hope wasn’t lost. My older sister Jill sent me the necessary funds to buy new airfare. I am normally the one who bails her out of trouble, but the tide had turned. Jill had always been one of my greatest allies, like most siblings we fought, yet our bond of love remained strong. When I couldn’t pray anymore, I called my sister for guidance, but she had given to her capacity.
“Brandy I have done all I can do and the rest is up to you. Honestly, I am not sure you had the timing right for traveling to New Jersey,” scoffed Jill.
My heart sank as I pulled the phone away from my ear. I was offended, so I violently lashed out at her.
“Jill, I assumed you sent me money because you believed in me, right? I have felt uncertain enough without you adding an unwanted opinion. Who needs a sister who changed with the wind?”
The next sound I heard was the phone abruptly being disconnected. Jill had hung up.Now the mission ahead would be hard and silent. My phone had died too. Although I was grateful to have found a way home, the only ticket available involved sleeping overnight at the airport. That meant eighteen hours in one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Even though, I knew God would protect me, I was still anxious. “Where could I have slept?” “How could I keep myself occupied for eighteen hours?” The negative thoughts that invaded my mind were dangerous, and they continually piled up.. “Why had I wasted my time, money and energy for this trip, only to end up sleeping in the airport?”
Then the voice from within spoke to me, ” I thought you planned on helping people,” he said?
“I tried to help people, I really did,” I said.”I was confident. I know there is a purpose to this all. Wait a minute, are you saying you had people for me to help and I missed them? Why would you wait until I reached the airport ?”
“How could you see anyone or anything while complaining?”
“Wow, I’ve kept my head held high, I told everyone about you, said I was here because of you. I looked crazy to people not just in Texas, but now in New Jersey.”
Truthfully, I wasted so much time. Who could I help at all?
And then I realized, there were many people in need all around me. They weren’t dressed in a shelter, war zone or even my local community, they were at the airport. Just regular people who needed encouragement.
So instead of looking for sleeping arrangements, I looked for people in need. No one stood out, but I was determined to find people.
Most stores were closing, but an electronic store looked open. John, the salesman was a Montclair State University student. He wasn’t displaced by hurricane Sandy, but he was unsettled about which career path to take. I encouraged him to follow his passion.
‘God will lead you to the right doors. He wants the best for you in every area of your life, ” I said.
John laughed, he didn’t believe in God and didn’t understand why I believed so confidently. John spoke about his dreams , from which road to take and how to manage it all. A few moments later, the store began to close.
“John whether you believe or not, my suggestion is still the same, God will lead you to the path of your dreams,” I said. “Open your heart to him.”
“But what if I go the wrong way, he said?” I haven’t decided which career to select.. How could God know if I don’t know.”
“Well He knows it all, “I said. ” Just like he knew I would find you.”
I left the store confidently knowing, through it all, God had provided a safe way of travel during one of the most uncertain times of my life. This way, involved too many interruptions to mention, and unforeseen battles were fought. Yet, God was still leading me. I thought I would be leading others safely through their storms, but in the end, I learned to lead myself. The circumstance that threatened to break my spirit instead renewed my core values. Although my dreams of my mission trip was different from what unraveled around me, it was still an opportunity for success.
Now what will you do with the opportunity God sends you today?