We had finished our breakfast and devotions and were now sitting around the big table talking over our impressions of Mexico and how the week there had changed our lives. The six of us had come to Mexico to meet missionaries and observe the work of World Witness. We started in Tampico and the work at Ebenezer Seminary. From there we had traveled to Ciudad Valles and this morning we were in the town of Rio Verde.
We were going to be in Mexico just 24 more hours. Lord willing, the next morning we’d be boarding a plane in the city of San Luis Potosi and flying back to our family and friends in the States. My wife, Helen, and I had fallen in love with the Mexicans and missionaries we had met and were excited about the plans we were sure the Lord had for us in Mexico.
Suddenly our time of reflection was disrupted by a missionary who rushed in and told us we needed to come over to his home across the street at once to see what was on television. He said something about a plane having flown into the World Trade Center.
As we all walked across the street, we speculated on how a plane could fly into a skyscraper in New York. We walked into the house as the second plane hit the second tower. I was stunned. This was not what I had expected to see. As I watched in horror, the towers collapsed. There were reports of a third plane hitting the Pentagon and then a fourth that crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Our country was under attack!
When we heard the announcement that all international border crossings were closed and all air traffic grounded, it was very clear that the next 24 hours would not be our last 24 hours in Mexico. Plans were about to change.
It is a very uncomfortable feeling to be “locked out” of your country. We were separated from people we loved. All sorts of questions came to my mind. Were they safe? Were they worried about us? Why had this happened? How can we contact them? How long will we be here? Who were the attackers?
At these times, it is easy to despair and become depressed. Fear and the feeling of anxiety is high. It is our nature to want to be in control. It is not comfortable when we are totally not in control. In a situation like this, we don’t have all the answers, but it is comforting to know that the Lord our God does.
The plans we had made to fly home in 24 hours went out the window. Now we had to figure out a new way to get out of Mexico and home. Thankfully, we were in the company of brothers and sisters in Christ. We could pray together and encourage one another and work together as a team.
We are told in the Bible that we make plans, but the Lord can have other plans. That is why James 4:15 tells us to always preface our plans with “Lord willing.” The Lord’s plan will prevail and it is the best plan for us. We needed now to pray and wait. Lord willing, He would provide a way.
The Lord doesn’t want us to be passive. When plans change we can either become discouraged and wring our hands or make a new plan and keep moving. In this situation, feeling trapped in Mexico, our group made the decision to make “lemonade out of lemons.” We became tourists in the old colonial city of San Luis Potosi and enjoyed a bonus time with missionaries there.
After a couple of days, the border crossings reopened although planes were still grounded. Our desire was to get back to the States as soon as we could and be able to give our loved ones a hug. We couldn’t fly, but the Lord provided a way. We got a ride with a missionary to Texas. What a sense of relief to arrive safely!
Thinking back on the experience, I thanked the Lord for once again demonstrating that, as He told Joshua (1:9), He is with us where ever we go. That is always a good thing to remember when our plans go out the window.
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