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Fly, Run, Pray

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"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." (NASB)

I burst into tears at the airline counter. My 96-year-old grandmother was dying. Having to make the 30-plus-hour trip from New Zealand to my hometown, I wasn’t sure I would make it before she passed away.

Crossing the Pacific, I pleaded with the Lord not to take her before I arrived, and to give her strength and peace.

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped … And with my song I shall thank Him.” (NASB)

Because the LA control tower forgot the plane was on the tarmac, my four-hour layover evaporated to 45 minutes to gather my luggage, clear customs, transfer to the domestic terminal, and clear security. 

Fighting tears, I estimated the line would take at least an hour to clear customs. I prayed. Immediately, an agent stepped in front of me and opened another line. In five minutes, I cleared customs and was making my way to the shuttle.

An agent walked up to me, asking where I was going. When I told her how little time I had to make the flight, she said, “Turn to the right when you get outside the door — and run!” 

Because I knew my way around LAX, I thought she had misunderstood me, but I followed her directions. With sweat pouring down my back and forehead, I ran with my luggage and arrived huffing at the counter. The agent was so indignant that I was checking in less than 40 minutes before takeoff that she forgot to charge me for my luggage.

I took off running and praying. At a checkpoint, a woman in front of me said to the agent, “I’m a Star Alliance member.”

As I looked at the shorter line for members, I thought I’m a member too! I asked if the agent wanted to see my card, but she said, “Get in the members-only line.” I was through the line within minutes.

The gate was at the far end, so I ran — again. When I arrived, no one was in the waiting area except for an attendant. “Is the plane still here?” I said breathlessly.

“It leaves in two minutes.”

I was the last person to board.

Arriving in my hometown just before midnight, my lifelong friend and her father took me to the hospital, where my grandmother was awake. I felt blessed to finally be with her and could not stop thanking God.

I held my grandmother’s hand throughout the night; she slept for a few minutes and would wake and look at me. She affectionately tapped my cheek or nose.

During the day, I read Scripture to Grammy. Her roommate told me how much that had deeply touched her.

As I was brushing my grandmother’s hair, she chuckled. She’d always had a “spastic” voice, but I could usually understand her. That day I couldn’t, so I asked her to repeat what she’d said. One word came out clearly: Jesus.

Soon afterward, my grandmother passed peacefully from this life into the arms of Jesus. She was the last of eight siblings.

I flew into my husband’s arms at the airport. Although my grandmother had passed away, a part of her will always reside in our hearts and memories. I was thankful for safe travels and that God had been beside me every step of the way through a difficult journey.

Copyright © 2019 Marlene S. Briggs, used with permission.

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About The Author

Marlene S.

After living offshore in New Zealand for a number of years, Marlene enjoys meeting people from other cultures and trying new dishes that she cannot pronounce. She writes a monthly blog—Life’s an Adventure— to make people laugh and to encourage them, because, as she says, you may as well laugh at yourself before everyone else does. She homeschooled her two children from kindergarten through high school, and, no, she never met George Washington, as her son once asked her. Country living keeps her sane, and the sight of a miniature goat melts her heart. She loves being a wife and mother and is

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