As the Evangelical Press Association Convention ended Friday night, I expected to open my hotel room door, pack for my Saturday flight home, and sleep.
But things don’t always go as we plan.
The convention was a wonderful week of smiles, conversations, meals, awards, lessons, and experiences. Deep dialogues. Delicious desserts. Walks and talks and rides. Music. The drama of Moses. The truth during these uncertain times. Questions, ideas, celebrations.
My four days in Lancaster brought many smiles to my face.
But I wasn’t smiling that night.
Ready to enter my room after saying goodbye to dear friends, my hotel room wasn’t ready to say hello to me.
The door wouldn’t open.
The hotel’s new entrance card wouldn’t work.
For me. For Marriott miracle workers.
The door remained shut.
My next three hours included one word I don’t like to write or hear or experience: Waiting.
My Friday night ended with very kind employees having to rip open the door—and me packing and moving what felt like all the possessions I’ve ever owned to a different room.
Why did I bring so much to Lancaster?
Why didn’t the door work for my final night?
Would I get enough sleep before my flight to Atlanta Saturday afternoon?
Questions, questions, questions.
My frequent visitor decided to spend time with me Friday night: Frustration.
Concluding such a delightful convention by hanging out with Waiting and Frustration and Exhaustion are never fun. Especially for picky planning-obsessed people like me. Especially on nights like that night.
But what were my choices?
Stay miserable and allow Frustration to remain the loudest voice of my mind?
Or change mental channels?
Begin to do what I had talked about and heard about and learned about all week?
I decided to write as I tried to rest in my new and nicer hotel room. I thought about the employee who spent his night frantically working to break the locks of a hotel door. I wrote a kind note on the Marriott’s app to balance the many previous notes which were bombarded with questions.
And I remembered how life is like this. It isn’t just smiles and laughter. It isn’t just an honor of a second place and forth place recognition.
It’s about doors not opening and nights not ending well. It’s about locks staying locked and luggage feeling too heavy. It’s about choosing to sleep in a new room and accepting it as a better bed after all.
This crisis reminds me of another I faced.
When one of our EPA meals concluded during the week. I had two choices. I actually had three, but I didn’t consider one of the cakes a legitimate option. So, let’s say I had two choices.
Chocolate cake or red velvet cake?
I decided to eat both.
My final taste merged them both together.
That was my favorite. The two together.
And though my locked-out-of-the-room and move-to-another-room and too-tired-for-this evening wasn’t fun, the various flavors of life often merge together.
The answers with the questions.
The smiles with the tears.
The opened doors with the locked doors.
The miracles with the disappointments.
The acceptance with the rejection.
Life doesn’t just offer one.
It’s not either or.
It’s both and.
That’s life. Even at Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square, thrills and frustration merge.
But peace isn’t dependent on room codes or good sleep.
I believe it comes from the Giver of Peace.
When doors were locked, He appeared. When doors are locked for me, He’s still with me:
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19, NIV)
Notice Him standing. Welcome Peace. Wave goodbye to Frustration and Exhaustion. Welcome the waiting, the shifting, the moving-to-another-room.
Things don’t always go as we plan.
I hope my flights aren’t delayed, my car starts, and I arrive home. Safely. And on time.
Regardless, I plan to welcome peace from the Giver of Peace.