TSA Perfect Timing

The TSA agent paused. Next her arm reached out and pulled my bag to the dreaded interior belt. I sighed knowing an investigation was ahead. Then she did it again! Both of my bags would require additional screening. As the agent moved my carry-ons to the steel examination table, all I could think of was home. It was my second trip in a month, and I longed to be in my own bed and back to my normal routine. This delay was one more obstacle in my way. But little did I know a God-ordained encounter was ahead.

As the white-gloved agent carefully shuffled through my bag, I waited and watched as others filed orderly through the security gate. All of a sudden, the flow was abruptly interrupted by an elderly man who slipped and hit the pavement – hard. As he lie on the ground grasping the open wound on his head, his wife, along with several TSA workers, scurried to his side. My instinct was to rush in to help, but he was surrounded, so I just stood back and waited. A few minutes later, his wife (Chung) popped her head up and inquired about their bags. That was my cue. I immediately stepped forward to collect them so she could focus on her husband, Joseph, still in agony on the floor. The TSA agent assured me that the paramedics were on the way, but it took at least five minutes for them to arrive.

As we waited, security staff began firing questions at Chung about her husband’s health and travel plans, and she attempted to respond in her broken English. She was obviously flustered as we continued to wait on the paramedics as her husband complained of dizziness and his throbbing head. I also overheard talk of his heart condition. Every motherly urge to jump in to comfort him and his wife had to be stifled as time passed without the emergency medics. I brought Chung a chair along with her bags and handed her needed items as requested. I then stood to the side and waited. Another bystander came up to thank me and told me that she had just seen a tearful goodbye with the couple’s daughter before entering security. I shared this information with the TSA agent, and soon he had their daughter on the phone. I was relieved that a family member would now be involved.

When the paramedics finally arrived, things moved quickly. Luggage was pulled from their flight (which happened to be the same one as mine), and they loaded Joseph on a stretcher. I helped Chung gather their bags and carried them to the exit area as they whisked her husband away. In the midst of the chaos, she paused and looked me in the eyes and asked, “What’s your name?” I responded, “Julie.” She smiled as she responded, “That was my grandmother’s name.” When I noticed the dangling cross around her neck, I smiled back and said, “I’m going to pray for you and your husband.” She thanked me as we embraced. I then handed her bags off to the emergency medical team as they headed to the ambulance.

What started as an inconvenience ended with an opportunity – to be present for someone in need. It was an unexpected encounter that occurred because an annoying security delay perfectly positioned me to be right there when Joseph plunged to the ground. The funny thing is that I don’t feel like I really did much at all. I just remained. But as I did, I was reminded of my father’s funeral when my best friend from high school, Beth, just sat in the back of the room from the calling through the service. She stayed the whole time. And I was comforted in knowing she was there.

Now, as I headed to the gate, tears filled my eyes as I realized that is exactly what God does for each one of us. He remains. He’s always there – waiting. He’s there to help and to console when our unexpected challenges arrive as they did for this couple who would not make it home that night but instead end up in the hospital.

Thank you, Lord, for this needed reminder during this busy Christmas season. My prayers for Chung and Joseph will continue as well as my praise for a God who remains.

“And they will call Him Immanuel, which means ‘God with us.’” (Matthew 1:23)

P.S. During the layover on the way to my next flight, an older lady named Jose literally fell into my arms on a steep escalator. I was in the right place at the right time again. Coincidence? I think not! Be on the lookout for God to use you too!

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6 Responses

  1. What a beautiful article. You were given the opportunity to help by doing small, comforting works of kindness. How lovely. They will remember you! I also had friends at my mom’s funeral who hung in the background, and I love them for it. Thanks for reminding me how beautiful life can be.
    • Thanks for taking time to read and write an encouraging comment, Frances. Yes, life is beautiful, and I'm constantly amazed at how God orchestrates encounters all the time. We just need to slow down to notice them and be available. As Mother Teresa said, "Do small things with great love." God bless you and Happy New Year! ~Julie

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