the engineer of the cancelled flight

It’s been said that “the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

And so there we stood, haggard and tired, outside the locked airport. The swelter of the breezeless pre-dawn humidity rising with the sun. Waiting and exhausted. Our reused clothes sticking to our dampening skin.

But I should back up.

Over the past several years, I’ve been working alongside my father in Equatorial Guinea to see the Bible school campus completed. Biannually I find myself back in the heart of the rainforest, preaching a passion for the lost, teaching a new generation of men, women and children about the mission of God and working toward a completed Bible school campus.

For several days we had busied ourselves with hauling gravel and dirt, placing a drainage system around the six-building grounds, cleaning their roofs from the encroaching layer of rainforest growth and overseeing the installation of new windows.

Along with our plans to preach, teach and work we had set aside a single day to fly from Malabo, the capital city on the island to the mainland city of Bata to meet with the Bible school director and other key pastors.

Saturday morning arrived and we boarded our plane to Bata. We enjoyed a meal and fellowship with a group of pastors. We walked the Bata Bible school campus and visited a church. We talked about the coming school year and drove to the airport for our evening flight.

But, if I might, “the best laid planes of mice and men…”

Our flight back to Malabo was cancelled leaving us stranded in Bata until Sunday morning.

We checked into a building that rents rooms (the state of the rooms causes me hesitation to call it a hotel…). The night passed restlessly in the heat and the chaotic sounds of drunken shouting from the street and hallway. Without a working shower we arrived at the airport praying to make the early morning flight in time for church.

We walked through the airport exhausted, tired and hungry. Unshaven and sweaty we sat down to wait for boarding.

And then, a nicely dressed woman invited us to the VIP lounge!

What? Did she the state we were in? Did she smell the state we were in? And yet, there we were, walking into the VIP lounge where a spread of breads, pastries and coffees greeted us.

Within a few moments, we were sitting down into the comfortable chairs of the cool air conditioned room with our hands holding coffee and fruited-cakes. Finally about to rest we watched as a 25 year-old Dutch engineer came and sat next to us. In moments this towering European began to open his young life to our witness.

How many times have I seen God engineer my days into His plans? And still, it surprises me every time. I bowed my smiling head, surrendered the cartography of my life once again to His plan and asked Jesus for wisdom with the right words to share with this searcher.

A few hours later we boarded the plane, made it home in time for a quick shave and shower, and I preached my heart out to a beloved church family. But the richest part of the day, the fullest memory of that day, are those redirected by the Engineer of the cancelled flight.