Last week, we were scheduled to have a family vacation at Dumaguete and Siquijor. The tickets were bought June 2016 so we went through months of planning, anticipation, and excitement. Our kids were so thrilled for their third plane ride. They have been counting the days leading to the trip, faithfully saving money from their allowances and weekly gifts from lolo and lola. We have a special alkansya (coin bank) designated for our contribution to the “Dumaguete fund.”

Monday came and we woke up early to catch our 7:00 AM flight. But my heart sank when we a Cebu Pacific staff told us that we were already three minutes late for our check-in and cannot be accommodated.

Until now, I could still vividly recall my kid’s pained faces when they learned that the planned trip was suddenly canceled. We could not afford to pay for the rebooking charge as it was over and above our budget for the entire trip.

We tried to console the kids as much as we could and said we were sorry that things would not go as planned. I honestly did not know what to do. I just wanted to embrace them and cry my heart out for them. We had all our bags packed, our meals for our two-day-stay in Siquijor were already prepared, and we’ve already booked accommodations. Since we left home around 3:00 AM, the kids did not have breakfast yet and we were hungry. And the trip that we planned for so long just vanished into thin air…

What do we do when circumstances suddenly changed? When what we hoped for suddenly become impossible to attain?

As I sat inside the airport thinking what I could have done to check-in earlier and what I would do now that we are faced with an unexpected and definitely unwelcome situation, I turned to God and asked what He could be teaching me and my family through this experience. I could blame myself for not waking up earlier. I could be mad at the airline’s policy and the seeming “heartlessness” of the staff. I could blame the jeepney drivers’ strike that caused the traffic that morning or the long lines of passengers leading to the airport’s entrance.

But I believe in the sovereignty of God in all things and in all people, right?

Situations like these cause me to examine my heart and my confidence in the doctrine that I passionately confess and claim to believe in.

I remembered my conversation with my brother the week before. We’ve talked about conformity to Christ and how we should desire to be more Christlike above anything else. I told him that though we often pray for and focus too much on attaining success, pleasure, and happiness. What should desire the most is to be in circumstances which will instill us with the heart of Christ and His character. Jesus’ love and faith in His Father were beautifully and majestically displayed in how He exercised patience, gentleness, meekness, wisdom, love, faithfulness, obedience, and joy in every situation. And this is our goal.

I have earnestly prayed for my sanctification. I have recognized the importance of Christlikeness more than worldly happiness and success. And in my mind, I know that the path to Christlikeness is one which is riddled with challenging, uncomfortable circumstances which compel us to trust in the loving and mighty hand of God and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit alone for our spiritual growth.

I am confident that God heard my prayer for Christlikeness. And He graciously answered last Monday. But it was an answer I would have never asked for nor expected. As I sat there with my disappointed family members, I think of the loving God who delights to do good to His children. He is the God who determined to conform those He called to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). And this is the reason why we can be confident that all things will work together for the good of  those who love Him (Romans 8:28). All my circumstances is leading this end–that I may, through the power of the Holy Spirit, have the virtues of Christ. And He would accomplish this by all means–even turning a missed flight and a canceled vacation as catalysts for my sanctification.

There was a lot to learn from the situation. I have learned that I should be at the airport early for check-in or opt to utilize the convenience of checking-in online. And factor in possible delays due to traffic, long lines, and others.

But more importantly, I have learned to trust God and place unforeseen situations in the hand of an all-seeing, all-loving, and all-gracious God. I have learned to humbly submit to Him when my expectations are shattered.

For my entire family, I hope we all have learned that our happiness is not where we are but in our being together. We now have a greater appreciation of the God who allows the fulfillment of our plans because He is gracious. And when our plans fail, we can still trust that He remains loving and gracious and can work all things together for our good.

God had better plans for us last week, though not necessarily a more scenic nor exciting as Siquijor and Dumaguete, but hopefully, more Christlike hearts–more humble, joyful, confident in His love, and choosing to always look upward…

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