Last week I traveled 4000 to meet my daughter, Megan, in Amsterdam who was there on a business trip. Within the span of 2 weeks, I book my flight, secured a hotel and scoured tour guides for sightseeing ideas. I do not usually travel alone so I was quite nervous the day of my departure. With my passport, a couple hundred euros and 2 credit cards secure in my hidden wallet, I clasped my travel bags in my fists, threw my shoulders back, breathed deeply and prayed for a safe trip as I hurried to check-in at the Minneapolis/ St Paul International Airport.
Landing at the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol after an 8-hour flight and feeling the effects of a seven hour time change, I began to understand the reality of my situation. My body thought the time was midnight and was ready to end the day but the sun was just rising over Amsterdam. As I took my first step off the plane and into The Netherlands, bright lights, incomprehensible signs and blinking monitors assaulted my senses. Blood raced to my head and my feet walked without direction. I felt as if I landed on another planet.
Trains, buses and trams stopped outside doors, at the end of ramps and hallways. I asked a tall blonde woman perched at the “informatiebalie” where I might purchase a train ticket – a “chipkaart”. With a great sigh she winged her arm behind her to the right. “Dat vay.” I saw nothing discernible in the sea of signs. I asked again, “Where?” With another sigh and a head shake for emphasis, she threw her arm back just as she did before.
Almost an hour later and with a train ticket in hand, I sat to catch my breath, calm my heart and decide which of the many gates might lead to the train I needed. I prayed again. “Oh dear God, help me to think straight, to find my way and and be safe.” Then with all the courage I could muster, I picked a gate, watched how others accessed the entrance with their “chipkaart” and followed them inside.
I don’t even remember how I finally found my train, but I did. Nervous and tired I leapt from the ramp onto the train then dragged my suitcases up 5 metal steps to the seating area. Overwhelmed, I wondered why on earth they have steps on commuter trains? That thought gave rise to another fear. Was I on the wrong train – perhaps headed out of town or even across the border?! My eyes blinked nervously at the screen announcing the upcoming train stops. “Station Bijilmer ArenA” appeared. I almost cried with relief.
With the train still moving, passengers bound down the isle anticipating the next stop. Startled into nervousness again I wondered how much time I had to exit before the train closed its doors and pulled away. Following the lead of the other passengers, I stood holding one bag in each of my hands and noticing how weak I felt in the knees. The train chugged and tossed the crowd of passengers. As my right foot touched the third step down, the train lurched, my foot caught and my entire body flung forward. With a bag in each hand, I watched the metal grated floor speed toward me helpless to stop myself or brace for impact.
While falling, as if in slow motion, my eyes locked with those of a young man in a puffy black coat and wisps of brown hair peaking from a hat pulled low over his ears. His arms reached up precisely catching both my shoulders in mid-fall. Then in one smooth motion he pushed me back to a stand on the stairs. With a gasp of gratitude and disbelief of what just happened I blurted, “Oh my God Thank you!” He nodded his head, whispered something in Dutch and stepped off the train.
Solidly and safely standing on the tiled floor of the train station I pulled my bags to a bench to gather my wits. My body trembled as the reality of how close I came to landing face first on the metal grated floor of a train in a foreign land sunk into my bones. My mind raced. How did that man catch me so perfectly? Why was he standing with his back to the train’s door facing in my direction instead in the direction he was headed? Why did my body stay rigid enough to be pushed up like way? I could not come up with a logical explanation.
Seconds later gratefulness washed over me. I was safe, saved from unknown disaster and injury. My faith told me the man on the train, whether he knew it or not, was meant to save me from harm. God uses all of us to accomplish his work in different ways. Why not in this way? I felt amazed, encouraged and humbled at the thought of being worthy of this kind of loving attention. I cannot be sure if that young man on the train was an angel or someone divinely placed in a position to catch me that morning. Some people would call it luck or coincidence. As for me I will forever believe – I was saved by an angel in Amsterdam.
Dear God, Thank you for keeping me safe in Amsterdam Your ways are mysterious and miraculous. I am so grateful to know you care for me and send me help in unexpected ways when I need it most. Amsterdam was a blast. Spending time with Megan a splendid gift. Thank you so much! Love, Jean
Psalm 91:11-12 For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not strike your foot against a stone.