I just returned this week from my 13th semi-annual hiking trip out west, my third in a row to Colorado. It was magical yet again, and it seems YHWH always teaches me something profound when I am out in His glorious creation, distraction-free. Yet this trip, He showed me something before we even got out of the Denver Airport, before we got close to setting foot on a trail in the mountains.
After deboarding, we made our way to baggage claim #5 to retrieve our suitcases. There were four of us on this trip; one dude didn’t check a bag, and the other two saw their bags fairly early. (I always have this slight, back-of-my-mind feeling that my bag will be lost, but I remembered saying to the guys that it’s nice to have a direct flight since there’s very little chance of your bag going missing.)
Down to two bags going round and round.
Oh man, this is happening. My suitcase is not here. I could keep staring at these two other bags go around, holding out hope they will birth mine on one of their laps, but my bag is not here.
OK, deep breath. This is alright. The guys all went to the bathroom and to check on where to go for the rental car, so I had no one to hold me at this point. I went to the Southwest office to report my bag not making it. They said I could look at the heavy bag area as sometimes they take a bit longer. And since I packed a full 96 ounces of peanut butter for the trails, my bag was kind of up there in poundage.
Besides my heavenly peanut butter, my $275 hiking boots I’ve had for eight years and seven trips were in there, as well as a myriad of other precious belongings, like my brand new hydro flask I was so nerdily excited to use. But I was psyching myself up~”I technically have everything I need on me to hike and have a good time. I will not let this ruin the trip.”
The dudes had come back by this point, and couldn’t believe my suitcase didn’t show. We could only figure someone grabbed it by mistake since it’s one of those black nondescript suitcases. And I had made the dumb mistake of putting my home phone number on the little tag as opposed to my cell number, acting like someone may find out I’m a spy or something so I better give vague information.
It had been long enough, and I decided to go back to the office and report my bag as missing, hoping it would turn up soon so I could get it before the trip was over.
Then, I had this thought: “Isn’t it possible that it got put on the wrong baggage claim carriage?” I mean, humans are prone to error. So right before walking to fill out my report, I decide to take a look over at baggage claim #4, next to the one (#5) where my bag was suppose to be.
And I see a black nondescript suitcase.
A little hopeful, I walked closer. That bag came around the turn as I approached, and it did indeed look like mine, bulging out the front from all that peanut butter. I picked up my pace, to a slow trot/gallop, and as I got to the bag that looked like mine, I grabbed that little tag to read “Robert Pallikan.” Oh glory! Elation filled my desperate little heart! So much pain and inconvenience was just averted. It was on the wrong conveyor.
And off we went…!
So, a few days later, we had a nice, slow morning. I was blessed with some time to myself in the room to meditate and pray. In reflection, the Holy Spirit spoke this to me:
What you’re looking for isn’t always where you’re looking. Sometimes it’s where you think you’re not suppose to look.
That’s one of those thoughts I can ruminate on for the rest of my days. Instead of expounding on what it meant to me, I will leave that with you to discover how it might mean something to you right now or in the future.
May our good Lord, who is full of mercy, richly bless you this day.