Friday, February 08, 2013

Lost Luggage and the Jonah Effect

This past week has been a traveler’s nightmare.  I left my home eight days ago.  While the sun was shining in Arkansas, a squall of thunderstorms descended on Atlanta.  Anytime there is foul weather at an airline hub, like DFW, ORD or ATL, there is a domino effect.  By the time I reached ATL my connecting flight to Amsterdam was long gone.  Delta put me up for the night, gave me meal vouchers and assured me that the dawning of a new day would find me happily in route to my final destination. 

How does the old joke go?  A man goes to the ticket counter and says to the agent, “I’d like to go to Detroit, please, but I want my bags to go to Boston.”  “We can’t do that sir,” replied the airline person, at which time the passenger remarked, “You did last week.”

While I was sleeping in the Marriot, courtesy of Delta, my bags were on a British Airways flight to London.  When I arrived in Delhi on Air France, my bag had yet to leave the U.K.  Eight days later I still don’t have my bag. 

There’s something disconcerting about not having your “stuff” with you.  I’ve had to buy a toothbrush, toothpaste, disposable razors, underwear, socks, a pair of jeans and a couple of shirts (that don’t fit well because the people I am teaching are much smaller than me).  I had packed some movies to watch to help pass the lonely nights, and some books I wanted to read.  This has been a discouraging week. 

It dawned on me that my discomfort is certainly not like the Apostle Paul, who endured shipwreck, beatings and being thrown in jail.  No, my situation is much like Jonah.  You know the story.  After Jonah preached God’s message to the people of Nineveh, he sulked.  He was upset that God had mercy so he sat under a large plant outside of the city.  God sent a worm to chew on the plant and it died exposing Jonah to the elements with no shade.  Jonah continued to grumble, about God’s mercy and his uncomfortable situation.

A lost bag is an inconvenience and nothing more.  My hosts are very generous, making sure I have plenty to eat.  My room is comfortable and quiet.  I even have hot water for a shower, which is more than I had three weeks ago in the Congo.  My prayer to the Lord is that somehow Delta or Air France will forward my bags to me, but that doesn’t seem likely as I am in a remote part of the country.  I don’t want to be a Jonah about this inconvenience.  Let me praise Him whether I have an extra sweater or not.  I’d like to think I would be a Paul about this state of affairs that I am in, content whether exalted or abased.  God deliver me, however, from being a Jonah.