“The Cat In The Bag”

10/18/17 – Judy’s Blog

“Hi y’all!” This is Judy, from the other side of the desk, writing for the Pastor’s weekly blog. I had the unexpected joy of traveling to South Carolina to visit with 7 of my grandchildren (oh I probably should also mention their parents were there also) last week. There were several interesting things that were to happen to me that I believe should be shared… as I love to share and put illustrations to my life story, like I really need any more experiences, as being married to Brian has given me ample illustrations!

Let’s see: where do I begin…… Heather (the mother of 5 of my grandchildren) called a few days prior and had invited me to their state fair in Columbia SC. She and I joked about how fun it would be, when she said, “why don’t you ask dad and see what he says”… and the rest is history.

Now, just so you know, I had Heidi (the mother of 2 of our 16 grandchildren) visiting with Lucas and Aiden, when all these plans transpired. So, Brian and I had to leave Heidi and the boys early on Friday morning and went to Living Waters Bible Camp for their Fall Foliage and Canadian Thanksgiving Conference. Brian was the Bible teacher and I was the guest singer. We returned home on Monday night and I was in Boston Wednesday morning at 4:45AM…. (sometimes I think Brian forgets how old I am.)

The trip down was flawless…. easy check in at Boston, easy security check in (most times an issue for a 60+ grey haired old lady who looks like a terrorist…. before morning coffee). Other than having a “middle” seat, the trip was uneventful. The kids met me at the airport, hugs and kisses and lots of happy voices greeting me in Columbia! The afternoon was fun but normal, playing with all the little people and enjoying my adventure, just feeling a wee bit tired.

Thursday morning arrives, this is the day of the big FAIR, everyone is beyond excited. They purchased Nana (me) an all-inclusive ticket which means I get to go on ALL the rides with ALL the kids……remember me mentioning about being a 60+ old lady? It was one of the hottest days I can recall in a long time, but I did not faint, in fact I made it through the entire day, riding 30 or more rides with teens and toddlers, over Niagara Falls (log flume) to the caterpillar roller coaster……it was a blast and I truly loved every minute. Well to be honest, there was one time I was on the Sky Ride, a ski lift that took us very high over the whole fair grounds, kind of bouncing up and down when folks got on or off. I had Jed my 5-year-old grandson in a death grip afraid he would lean over too far and slip out but he was gracious and not once asked me to release him.

Friday came and we spent the day doing fun things with all 7 grands, watching movies and eating pizza: fun family times. Then came Saturday……my day to return to my world. Which brings me to the reason for this whole blog thing. If you have made it this far, I’m sure you were wondering if you were just going to read my diary for the whole blog……. Nope!

Heather dropped me off at the airport in Columbia at 8 AM. The airport was not busy and it sure seemed like it would be smooth sailing; how wrong I was!

Security personnel were diligently checking all the early passengers in when suddenly, a low moaning sound came from a black carry-on bag. A slightly graying gentleman was carrying two bags and one of the bags had a very unhappy large yellow cat in it.

How do I know it was yellow, fat and fluffy, you ask? Well, before any of the 6 TSA security agents could stop the man, he had unzipped his carry on with the fluffy yellow, unhappy, miserable, un-drugged, angry cat. All eyes were fixed on this creature as it attached all claws, (which appeared larger than real life) to the man’s upper torso. By now all 6 TSA agents diverted their attention from their regular assignments (checking us in) to this now totally out-of-control desperate kitty.

14 hands were grasping for the cat trying desperately to unhook his claws from the gentleman who did not understand why the TSA agent kept loudly repeating, “Do NOT take the cat out of the bag!” Have you ever seen 14 pair of hands trying to stuff an unwilling fluffy angry cat into a very small bag with zippers on each side and each end? I really believe Fluffy was headed to a Halloween horror movie was not easily convinced that he should be back in the bag.  I myself witnessed his head and paws and tail at different points in the procedure trying to evacuate.

Moving on…. I arrive at the Atlanta airport right on schedule and proceed to my gate. I was at B34 and my next flight was B1 so I only needed to walk through 34 gates, by 2 food courts and a few pricey stores before I arrived at my next gate assignment. I was pre-warned by my husband that the flight was overbooked and that they may be looking for volunteers to be bumped…thus the real adventure begins:

I approached the gate keeper (that’s a term I lovingly will use – I know they are boarding agents) and asked about the current situation and offered my seat if needed. (I was told there would be financial compensation – always such a blessing!) She took my name and before all the passengers boarded she called me and asked if I would be willing to wait for the next plane. So, without hesitation I said, “Absolutely!”

The “gate keeper” gave me a new boarding pass for gate A45. I thought, only one terminal, one train ride and 45 gates away with 2 hours to make it: no problem! (Plus a hefty bonus in my rolling carry on.) I can do this! Then I get to the next gate keeper to find out I am on another “standby list” with zero to slim chances to make it on board.  Sure enough, she was right. Who gives all the details to passengers when they give up their seats anyway? Not the gate keeper back at B1.

Now my next ticket said C37 which just happens to be another terminal away, but the gate keeper said in their sweet southern drawl, “It doesn’t matter what your ticket says, you need to go to E15, this airline can change their mind anytime they want without notice.” So, 17 of us at different times all head to gate E15 for our long-awaited flight to Boston. I am not in a hurry as I now have nearly 3 hours before my next opportunity to fly.

I take 3 different trains and walk through 5 terminals to get to this next gate keeper. Before I could even get close to him he yells at me in his not-so-sweet southern drawl, “I sure hope you are not coming to my gate…. cuz you aren’t flying to Boston from here; who sent you all here and why you coming to my gate?” (I’m thinking a lot but not saying to much yet) so I responded that I had been told this was where we needed to be. Needless to say, this gate keeper denied me entrance and told to return to C37.

As I was thinking about this turn of events, my mind went to Matthew 7:14… But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life and only few can find it. On this day there were many of us looking for the right gate, and several were rejected. How thankful I was that when it comes to the important gates of life, Jesus, my personal gate keeper, will allow me in.

On my way back, walking through this very empty terminal, suddenly I heard beeps, lots of beeps, like the beep of the golf cart when they carry old folks like me through the airport. I looked all around me and there was no golf cart to be seen. Then suddenly, lights started flashing and an announcement kept coming over the loud speaker….”SECURITY ALERT…SECURITY ALERT…THERE HAS BEEN A BREACH AT THE AIRPORT, KEEP YOUR BAGS UNDER CONTROL AT ALL TIMES.”

Now I would be lying if I did not admit that my heart was a little jumpy, but I decided to keep walking, take the train and get back to C37 as quickly as possible. I entered the next train, and found only 3 TSA agents and myself. At this point, I probably should mention, that on any given day there are 260,000 passengers that travel through Atlanta’s Hartfield-Jackson Airport. Did I mention that this whole train only had 4 people on it? It only gets worse!

At the next stop, the 3 TSA agents exit the train, so now I am all alone. The train jerks as it started, then immediately stops and then I hear this message… “This train is disabled, it is returning to its last destination.” At this point, I am talking to Jesus, to make sure that He had stayed on the train with me.

When I look around there is not one person in any of the cars and I wondered, “How did I get on this train and no one else did; am I in the ‘Twilight Zone?’  Where is Rod Serling?” You do remember that there are over one quarter of a million people passing through this airport every day of the week and I am alone in this train?

I finally get to my gate and onto my plane for Boston. As I am settling in and thanking God that He got me here safely, I notice this man coming towards me wearing a very offensive tee shirt. I lower my head hoping he does not see me and passes by but no, he stops and takes the seat beside me. I soon found out that not only was his shirt vile, he was a very heavy smoker and I’m quite sure he had missed a few weeks of the Saturday night bath routine! His smell was stronger than my stomach. I only had him with me for 3 hours and I thought it wouldn’t get worse……then he fell asleep. I don’t think I need to tell you what happens when people fall asleep in the seat beside you!

I finally arrived at Logan, Brian picked me up, we stopped for something to eat and I had a very uneventful ride home. As I have been thinking through this adventure these past few days my thoughts have turned to Christ and how He has taken care of the most important trip I will ever take: my trip to heaven.

Jesus has paid for my ticket… you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:20

No wrong gates, Jesus has showed me the way… Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

And no wrong trains, no wrong information; Jesus will take me there Himself… In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:2-3

Heaven, my ticket is already paid for, no ‘stand by’ for me. I’ll have first-class accommodations with a wonderful banquet prepared for me. The “gate keeper” will not yell at me telling me I am at the wrong gate; He knows my name; my entrance is secure.

My friend, don’t make the most important trip in your life, without Jesus. He died for you, He rose from the dead for you so that your ticket to heaven would be authentic, so your reservation would be secure and your trip will be nonstop. If you are not sure of heaven, if you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ just e-mail us at Pastor@Centerbarnsteadcc.org and we can tell you on the basis of God’s Word how you too can be assured that you will be at the right gate meeting the right Gate Keeper… I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:13

Who would have thought that an early morning flight from a small airport in South Carolina could have had such an impact on me, and that poor yellow cat in the bag!