This past week, I’ve been away at my cousin’s farm on what I’m calling a ‘writing retreat.’ It was a wonderful time of hanging out, talking, and a little bit of editing thrown in there. 😉
This morning, after a productive editing session, I packed up my bag ready to go to the train station to head back home again. I dumped all my stuff in the back of my Aunt’s car, slid into the back seat with my cousin—
And the car didn’t start.
The trip to town was about half an hour, and my train was scheduled to be turning up approximately ten minutes after that.
So we all hopped back out of the car again, and pushed the car back out of the shelter onto the driveway. Jump-starting leads and several minutes later, and we’d got the engine going again. A little delayed, but still on track.
All went well and we ended up arriving at the train station with plenty of time to spare, so we wandered around a bit and then waited on the platform until the train turned up.
I’d checked my ticket several times, and knew I was in carriage E, seat 16. Easy. So I get on the train, juggling my backpack, satchel, and violin case, and walk along the aisle to seat 16.
Only to find someone else preparing to sit down on the seat.
I did a double take and so did the very posh-looking lady. I said, “Excuse me, are you on 15?”
“No. I’m on 16.”
My stomach went cold, and I fumbled for a moment, before getting a confused answer out. “Um…I think I’m on seat 16, actually.”
She was certain, and I was equally certain, so we both pulled out our train tickets to check. And sure enough, it said carriage E, seat 16 on both the tickets.
The fancily dressed lady guessed that they must have double-booked that one seat, offered to go sit in a spare seat, and told me to sit in seat 16, insisting that it was totally fine, and just brushing off my apologies.
A train official got to us between some other boarding passengers and we explained the situation to her. She asked to see the tickets, so we handed them over. She confirmed that the other lady’s ticket was indeed correct, then she took one look at mine and said, “This is for Saturday.”
Sometimes when I’m writing I use the expression “my stomach flipped” and that’s exactly how I felt. 😯 I knew we’d checked and double checked that the ticket was on the right date before booking, and the train was already leaving the station, so I couldn’t just get off and stay for an extra night.
The train official said, “This train is totally booked full.”
And I said something absolutely intelligent like, “Oh my word, I’m so sorry.” Which is exactly the same as what I’d said approximately two seconds before and then again two seconds afterward.
Long story short, I was told to sit in seat 16 (since the other lady was already sitting in a spare seat) and also told that something would be worked out when the next train lady came along.
So I sat. My gear dumped on my feet, my whole body feeling kind of cold and fluttery. A few minutes later, another lady came along and she asked me a couple of questions, like, “But did you check your ticket before boarding?”
To which I could only think “Um yes, but I didn’t think to check the date because I wasn’t even uncertain about whether that was correct. But?? Somehow???” And to which I said “Yes…but no…I mean…I checked the seat, but not the day.”
Despite all my stumbling and fumbling and “I’m so sorry” repetitions, the lady was really nice and she told me she’d sort it all out.
Then she said, “We were actually completely booked out, except one of the passengers didn’t get on at the last stop, so luckily there’s one spare seat for you.”
After that she walked away, but I just sat there kind of in shock from it all.
There was only one spare seat. And one seat was all I needed.
If that person had turned up and caught their train at the stop before mine, I would’ve had no seat at all.
But. God. Provided.
It might seem like a fairly small thing, but to me right then it was huge. I was scared: by myself on a train, three hours from home, and no one but myself to blame for a messed up train ticket. Getting a seat was a huge deal for me.
I’m still not entirely sure how that train ticket ended up on the wrong day (we double checked specifically so it wouldn’t be), but I do know that it was a reminder of a lot of different things. Two in particular.
First off, that lady looked really fancy and stand-off-ish and she turned out to be really nice. I had drawn conclusions before even speaking to her, and I turned out to be so wrong. Just because someone looks one way, doesn’t mean they’ll act that way. I only had a tiny interaction with her, but I believe she’s actually a lovely lady. And even if she isn’t, I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt.
Secondly…I’m so dependent on God, and he’s always there. If everything had run smoothly, I would’ve gotten onto the train, sat down on my seat, and just had an ordinary trip back home. And I wouldn’t have had that awe-inspiring, stomach-clenching reminder that he is always there.
It’s only because of the problems, that I truly appreciate the solutions.
Someone might say to me “Aw no, I’m sorry it didn’t go smoothly.”
But the weirdest thing is that I don’t want it to go smoothly. I don’t want to walk on the train, then walk off it again. I’m glad those tickets were somehow messed up and I’m glad that there was only one seat left to spare.
It was another opportunity to see my God in action. Because, honestly—no one can convince me that all that was just a ‘coincidence.’
Honestly, I just wanted to share that with you. Just a little story from my day today, and a story that I hope I’ll never forget. God shows his love in so many different ways, and bad things happen (train tickets being on the wrong day 😯 ) so that good things can happen (I got home despite it all! 😛 ).
Chat with me! What things (little or big) has God been doing in your life recently?