Romans 8:22-23 All creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.
Before we left my sister’s home for the Boise airport, I received an email from the airline saying delays were possible due to thunderstorms in Chicago. My flight was still listed as On Time.
At my gate, the information board had switched to Delayed, from an 8:15 departure to 10:00. Soon an agent announced a further delay to 11:30 and asked us to make our own arrangements for connecting flights. Long lines immediately formed in front of the two agents. I called my airline and heard wait time would be 5–10-minutes.
An hour later, a representative finally responded, breezily telling me I should have no problem with my connecting flight since my Boise flight would depart at 10:00 and my flight out of Chicago was also delayed. I checked the board: indeed, it still said 10:00 a.m. I told him of the announced delay to 11:30. He said, “Well, if you’re worried, there is one seat left on the 6:10 p.m.” Gratefully, I took it. He said, “Stop worrying. We’ll get you home today one way or another.” I wasn’t worrying. I had simply asked what my options were for getting to Pittsburgh. But I imagine he had spent his day speaking with worried travelers.
We left Boise a little after 1:00 and landed at O’Hare in bright sunshine. Puddles here and there bore witness to the earlier storm. But the airport was a madhouse. Social distancing was impossible. I can only imagine the logistic challenges to restore normalcy to air travel in and out of Chicago following this benign and relatively brief weather event.
The information board said “Boarding Closed” re. my original flight. I thanked God for my seat on the 6:10, and for a place to sit at my gate after a flight departed for Houston. Passengers waited at B3 for at least three additional flights, their departures scheduled half an hour apart. The 6:10 flight was delayed three times, and then our gate changed. We all trooped down the concourse to merge with passengers at B8, and finally departed for Pittsburgh at 8:00.
In both airports, I observed that passengers did not connect with each other. Despite sharing a common reality—delayed flights and competition for available electrical outlets for our phones, laptops and iPads—each of us kept to ourselves or spoke on our phones. A primary reason for this (apart from dependence on our devices), I suspect, was the mask each of us wore. A parable.
I had time to reflect on other periods of waiting I’ve experienced, when every minute was torture because the outcome was likely to be bad news, rather than the joy of simply going home. We can be encouraged, Paul says, because we wait for Jesus with eager hope, with a guaranteed glorious outcome. We may—actually, we do—experience tough things along the way. But our final Homegoing will be spectacular, the fulfillment of our lifetime of longings. Definitely worth the wait!