I have a confession to make, the whole time I was in Florida, I never once opened my Bible, never once read Plan B by Pete Wilson, and never had an organized quiet time. Well, duh, I didn't open my Bible! Although, the time going to, being in and coming from Destin were filled with God moments. Before leaving Dena's place, we stopped and prayed. We asked for special times and moments from the Lord while traveling. To be honest, in my mind, that would be beautiful sunsets, I suppose sunrises (although I didn't plan to be awake that early), spotting wildlife along the beach (animals and fish, not wild humans) and all those wonder filled ways God has to show Himself in beautiful, beautiful nature. Well, His ways are not ours. We rarely saw sunlight, experienced a lot of rain, dreary overcast skies, saw tar balls on the beach and even experienced a few power outages along the way. Yet, this is one of the best trips I have ever taken. Had the best time with family (includes Dena) and thoroughly enjoyed myself, meanwhile the Lord was there whispering His truths in my ears. I don't think everything the Lord showed me is for blog publication but I do think the night the lights went out at the Hilton can be shared.
Last Wednesday night, we returned to the hotel after a wonderful evening out. The five of us had gone for pedis/manis or both, eaten delicious Mexican food, shopped and had great success in several very cute shops, and topped off the evening with ice cream from Brewster's. I was thrilled that they had fat free/no added sugar ice cream. Dena was driving (she loves in town driving, which I don't and I love Interstate/Highway driving and she doesn't) and she commented how dark the parking lot was. Since we couldn't find a close parking place, we decided for our last night we would valet park to ease our departure the next morning. As we pulled under the porte cache (love that word) we were directed by a bellman with flashlights. Looking inside the hotel as we pulled in, I saw darkness with a scattering spots of light coming from flashlights. We were told valet parking would be complementary, since the computers were down (complementary is hotel talk for free) and to go to the front desk to get a flashlight. We did just that and then tried to figure out what to do. No one seemed to be panicked. Dena and I made our way toward the part of the lobby that was mainly used for conventions and meetings. This particular week, Louisiana lawyers were having a big meeting. Don't know if it was for litigation concerning the oil spill or if it was just the yearly thing that Louisiana lawyers do. We made our way to an information table and sat in the chairs behind it. We had no information to give and well, no one asked. For some reason, I was shutting down. I didn't want to think about potential avenues we might need to take. My heart was way out of rhythm and my ankles were continuing to swell. Dena did some investigative work to get us information so we would have our bearings and figure out our way. By this time we had procured a couch in the lobby area which would provide much more comfort than the chairs. I sat there and prayed. I know Dena was praying as well. We both knew since one elevator was working on emergency power, we would eventually have to make that trip up to the 9th floor if nothing more than for me to get my meds. As I sat there asking God for wisdom and emailing Roy because my phone battery was just about dead and the boy doesn't text, this verse from Psalm 139 kept coming to mind, "even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you." Dena came back with ice water, what a good friend and we discussed our options...knowing we were going to have to go up on that elevator. We talked to many who passed us by, even some official looking guys who informed us a major transformer had blown and the replacement part was in Pensacola. There were two other large condos without power. It might be sometime mid day on Thursday when the power would be restored. Roy called us and said, they wouldn't let people on the elevator if anyone thought it would be unsafe. We also learned that there were emergency lights on in the hallway, so it wouldn't be total darkness once we stepped off the elevator. That helped us and so finally after waiting in the lobby for over an hour, we had the courage to ride up to the 9th floor. We said our goodbyes to our elevator mates with the same refrain those who had gotten off us before us said, "well good luck! We made it to our floor."
Actually our room wasn't hot. The overcast skies had lowered the outdoor temps and they had been in the low 80's. Since both Dena and I are safety conscious, we used our own flashlights brought from home and we packed up our things. Then about midnight we decided to go ahead and try to get some sleep. We kept the balcony door closed but opened up the curtains to let in all the night time light we could get. Now I'm not saying it was the best night's sleep I've ever had, but it wasn't bad. I woke up around 3:00 am wide awake but Dena's snoring put me right back to sleep. OK, that's not true, her snoring kept me awake. OK, OK, that's not true either, she doesn't even snore. Whatever, I finally fell asleep only to be awakened at 5:30 with lights and the TV. Dena turned off the lights and TV and I got up to turn down the A/C. The power went off again...but it came right back on, I got up again to turn down the A/C and fell back to bed and to sleep in a nano second. We gave some thanks to the Lord though, before falling back to sleep.
Later that morning when I had some quiet time, God reminded me how much the power outage and darkness journey was not unlike the heart journey I find myself on right now. Even though I have done all the "right" things, it is all out of my control. God knows and is in control. I keep reading Acts 27 and 28 about Paul's journey to Rome. It was a difficult journey but God kept Paul informed. Even when they knew they were near an island, unknown to them, God gave them some familiar knowings to keep taking the right moves in the right direction. They were in darkness, but they did what they knew to do and God gave them light along the way. When they all reached Malta, it wasn't such a bad outcome, they were taken care of. They continued their journey and God sent provision, encouragement and fellowship along the way. Dena and I got to walk that out and experience God's love and provision in a time that would have been easy to sit down and have a fit or get angry over it all or do something stupid. Believe me, we eventually saw a little bit of that behavior from others.
Of course this has gone on too long and I will never be able to write it out in any way to do any justice to the spiritual impact it made upon me. Of course God has a great sense of humor, at the Holiday Inn at Hammond, LA Thursday night, they had a power outage in their restaurant and no meals were being served. So we ran over to Pizza Hut near by for the salad bar and the pizza buffet...their A/C was out and only to go orders were being taken. No prob, we ordered a veggie pizza, went to Wendy's to pick up a salad and iced tea and then came back for the pizza. We enjoyed a delicious dinner in our hotel room.