The Day I Lost My Son in An Elevator
The memory of losing our son in an elevator in Hong Kong still causes me to break out in a cold sweat. Our family was visiting Hong Kong for a brief vacation from the Philippines, where we were serving as missionaries. We had planned to stay at the guesthouse for missionaries located on an upper floor of a high-rise condo building. We were standing in the lobby, waiting on the elevator to see our home for the week for the first time. All of us were excited to be in this new exciting place. When the elevator doors opened our, then six-year-old, son, Jesse, ran inside the elevator ahead of the rest of the family. Just when he arrived inside, the doors closed leaving all us standing outside!
For you parents out there, you can imagine the sense of panic. We were in a country where Chinese was spoken instead of English or Cebuano. Communication was a challenge at best. Jesse did not know what floor our condo was on nor did he know how to ask for help. My husband and our two older sons immediately ran up the stairs hoping to catch the elevator on another floor. I waited not so patiently in the lobby just in case Jesse made it back down to the lobby. All of our hearts were pounding with fear. Our son was lost in an elevator; enter my worst vacation nightmare.
Inside the elevator, Jesse rode all the way to the top floor where a female security guard was standing. She noticed his tears and got on the elevator with him to offer her help. But instead of returning to the lobby, the elevator went to the basement. We were not there and he was still crying. After what seemed like an eternity, the elevator doors opened in the lobby and there stood Jesse and the female security guard. She looked at my fear-stricken, tear-stained face and knew immediately that I must be the mother of the little blonde haired boy that was lost in the elevator. Never again did Jesse run ahead of us into an elevator! Jesse had no intention of putting himself in that situation or putting his family in that kind of panic. He was simply excited to be a part of what was ahead.
When I think back on that experience I can’t help but think about the times that the people of God have run ahead of Him in their anticipation of what was to come.
Sarah ran ahead of God when she was told she would have a son. She could not imagine how God could possibly do that through her (surely He meant adopted son, right?), so in her excitement for the possibility she ran ahead of God and took matters into her own hands. Her actions did not work out so well, causing heartbreak for a maidservant, Hagar, and a sense of panic latter in Israel’s history. (Gen. 15-16) Or what about Peter who, in his enthusiasm, ran ahead of Jesus only to find himself denying Jesus multiple times before the night was over. He never intended to put himself in a situation that caused such pain and regret. He never intended to cause the panic that came from cutting off the ear of a guard; he was simply wrapped up in the moment and took matters into his own hands. (Matt. 26)
Their stories and my own experience are reminders to me not to run ahead of God.
So often when I sense God is up to something exciting or I see a great need, my first reaction is to run ahead instead of waiting on God to take the lead. In those times I have found myself experiencing the pain of disappointment. And sometimes my exuberance has left others behind in a state of panic, much like my family felt when Jesse got in that elevator. While my intentions were good, I made a mistake when I ran ahead of God.
One of the most difficult things to do in our Christian walk is wait on God.
Wait on God to lead us to our place of service. Wait on God to show us our life mate. Wait on God to send our first child. Wait on God to provide the financial resources for a building project, or mission project, or tuition or groceries. Wait on God to change the heart of a lost friend. Wait on God to heal a broken heart. In the midst of waiting, the temptation to “run ahead” can be strong!
As the second half of 2013 begins, perhaps it is a good time to take a break and “Be still and know that He is God” (Psalm 47:10). I can save others and myself a lot of agony and panic when I choose not to run ahead, but to wait on God!