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Subject to Change (Part 3)


After five days, my lost luggage appeared on my doorstep waiting to be unpacked and put away. In like manner, I will unpack the last of my personal lessons and put this topic—Subject to Change—aside. Practical tips follow.

Tips for Managing Air Travel Chaos

Stay near your gate

Change can happen quickly, and you don’t want to miss the flight wandering through the nearest bookstore.

Gather as much information as possible

Ask intelligent questions pertinent to your situation. (Examples: Where is the inbound aircraft coming from? Is it in the air? When will it arrive here? Do we have a crew? Are you showing weather delays? What is the mechanical problem that needs repair?)

Be aware that rumors abound amidst airport confusion

Not everyone wearing a uniform actually knows what is going on.

Get on the phone

In some situations, you might get faster service from a call center than from a beleaguered desk agent.

Stay alert

When delays continue to plague your prescribed flight, be prepared for a cancellation (looms)

Just wait

If you are on a stand by list, stay put in the boarding zone. You just never know. This tip came from a gate agent, and proved worth its weight in gold. On yet a different trip in January, a mechanical problem threw my whole itinerary cross-country itinerary out of whack.

Desperate to get home, I held spot #11 on a standby list of 11, for an already overbooked flight. Tempted to give up and console myself with a nice meal, I conferred with the airline personnel managing my gate.

“Should I just accept reality and leave?” I asked.

“Sure, you can do that, but you might want to wait. You just never know what will happen.” Truer travel words were never spoken.

The maxed out plane loaded, and the gate agent began calling names from the list of stand by passengers. Imagine my exhilaration when I heard, Deborah Thompson!

The agent smiled and handed me my boarding pass with these parting comments, “Congratulations. I am glad you got on. Many of those on the list ahead of you did not wait. They left. Now enjoy your flight.”

Be nice, even if no one else is

God wants you to be a blessing in the midst of the brouhaha. And be sensitive to those around you; not everyone wants to chat, and not everyone cares to see the latest photos of your grandchildren.

Consider the elements

Weather will always influence your travel plans. And just so you know, air travel in the summer is subject to thunderstorms, and air travel in the winter is subject to icy and snow. Both have the potential to close airports and ground aircraft. Count on it. And in such cases, the airline is not obligated to cover your expenses.

Think quickly but not carelessly

When it is your turn at the desk, be clear and concise with the agent, Though a line waits behind you, don’t be pressured to act in haste. Once given the alternatives, ask the Lord’s guidance. Then act; make a decision.

Enjoy the confusion

“Never let a good crisis go to waste.” (M. F. Weiner) With that conclusion, I officially bring Subject to Change in for a landing.

Living With Eternal Intentionality®

What is your best tip for managing airport chaos?

How did you learn this lesson?

Subject to Change (Part 2)

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From the warmth and comfort of home, reflections on my Subject to Change drama continue. Further directional information comes to light:

GPS Coordinates for Navigating an Airline Crisis

1. Realign expectations

In such a situation, open your hand; release your itinerary, and relinquish your timetable. Acknowledge peacefully that life, in reality, is always subject to change.

2. Reject selfishness

Recognize that everyone within your 360-degree radius has a destination they need to reach, a set of plans they need to fulfill, a project they need to present, an assignment they need to complete. Weddings, funerals, or births beckon each of them. Each individual has something on the line; now their plans, too, are subject to change.

3. Revel in the proximity of God

But as for me, the nearness of God is my good (Psalm 73:28).

My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest (Exodus 33:14).

His proximity is not subject to change.

4. Relish the strength and security of His promises

Mustering all of your mental might, navigate the bizarre ambiguity by choosing to GPS your circumstances according to the landmarks of His promises, which are never subject to change.

God loves me and God is in control. I have loved you with an everlasting love and underneath are the everlasting arms (Jer. 31:3; Deut. 33:27b KJV).


God promises to take care of me. My God shall supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19 NKJV).


God intends to bless me, even in this crisis. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jer. 29:11).


God has equipped me to handle, in His power, this situation. His divine power has given (me) everything (I) need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).

So therefore?

Though it is never convenient to be inconvenienced, fan the flames of your faith, and live as though He is real, and act as though His Word is true.

Living With Eternal Intentionality®

When did you last have an important situation go upside down?

How did you gain your equilibrium?

Looking back, what would you have done differently?

What lesson stays with you?

Subject to Change (Part 1)


I collapsed at the waiting area of Gate C20, and hoped this flight would finally take off and transport me home. Exhaustion increased exponentially by the minute. My red Athletes in Action carry-on bag (whose contents I long ago gave up trying to organize) felt as though concrete bricks hid inside. Large glass windows protected me from the bleak wintery weather, but its mood seemed written across the faces of forlorn passengers milling about. Most were anxious, a few were ambivalent, and some were down right angry.

In this setting, sharing my row with other displaced individuals, I casually glanced down at my boarding pass. And, for the first time ever, I noticed the fine print. Three simple words—subject to change—leapt from the paper. This benign phrase held bragging rights to my situation.

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Let me backup.

January travel plans called for me to join Larry in Indonesia where a rare ministry opportunity awaited us. So, on a bitterly cold morning, I locked our door, and set out for Asia where the thought of warm weather beckoned. I put my key away and mentally reviewed a list: thermostat set, check; mail held at post, check; lights selectively left on, check; passport in hand, check; medication for my ailing ear, check. Ready, set, go!

My scheduled journey went from Cincinnati to Detroit, Detroit to Seoul, Seoul to Indonesia. (Long, extremely looong, but doable.) After two days of grueling travel, I should safely reach my destination, my husband, and my colleagues. It never occurred to me to consider three simple words: subject to change.

Traveling alone with no time to spare, I made the transfer in Detroit. Amidst 350 other passengers, I boarded this monstrosity of an aircraft, settled in to my seat, and pulled out both my book and my knitting. I felt like a bear going into hibernation. After all, this would be my space for nearly 14 hours. Subject to change, never crossed my mind.

But my hibernation abruptly ended.

After take off—somewhere out over the frozen tundra of the Arctic—the captain’s voice interrupted my reverie with his announcement: Ladies and gentlemen, an onboard medical emergency requires us to turn around and head back to Detroit. Indeed, a passenger on board our flight suffered a stroke and required immediate attention. Yikes.

Then, as our plane landed in Detroit and pulled up to the gate, a bizarre set of circumstances launched what became the theme of my sojourn: subject to change.

The pilots and crew had to be replaced, as did the medical items used onboard. A snowstorm on the east coast confounded the attempts to bring in the required fresh crew members. Then, add to the mayhem the unthinkable: local authorities closed Detroit Metro Airport due to wintery icy conditions, and all planes were indefinitely grounded. Amidst the confusion, my flight was cancelled, as was the flight the following day. “Stranded” took on new meaning as details and dilemmas spiraled, seemingly, out of control. Every minuscule aspect of my life rested under the arc: subject to change.

Despite a 13-hour time difference, Larry and I met for prayer over our mobile phones. Calculating the delays, now compounded by distance and layovers, we arrived at the difficult and disappointing conclusion that it was God’s will for us to cancel my participation in the trip. Thus, after being grounded overnight in Detroit, I would not proceed to Asia, but rather would set about the arduous challenge of returning home to Ohio.

So, the following afternoon, after an increasing number of further delays, I sat at Gate C20 and three simple words worked their way into my psyche: subject to change.

A sea of travelers who shared the same reality (subject to change) waited restlessly. Their various reactions became a study for me. Most were anxious, a few were ambivalent, and some were down right angry. Why, individual even announced aloud: “I hate people!” Unfortunately, I made the mistake of getting in front of him in a line.

So, why does subject to change catch us by surprise? My travel saga provided a fresh opportunity to consider the question. For starters, here are three conclusions:

  1. We value control and relish the thought of directing our own destiny.

  2. We forget that our default setting is self, and we rise up when our agenda feels snatched from our fingers.

  3. We deny the reality that “control is a myth,” (Bill Lawrence), so we get blindsided when our plans unravel.

But think about this; in truth, every aspect of our lives is subject to change.


He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

Living With Eternal Intentionality®

How do you respond when your game is rained out, your child gets sick, or your husband calls to tell you he will be late for dinner?

What happens inside of you when God whispers, “Subject to change”?