Jesus Christ, Parking Lot Attendant?

by Andy Wood on October 8, 2012

in Consumers, Enlarging Your Capacity, Five LV Laws, LV Alter-egos, LV Cycle, Photos, Principle of Freedom, Turning Points

Albuquerque. Sunday morning, 4:30 a.m. MST.

I think I had an encounter with a prophet.

Or maybe it was one of those times when the Lord Himself wanted to pay somebody a personal visit and get their attention.  He definitely got mine and for the briefest of moments it wasn’t pleasant.

The Back Story

One of the things on my bucket list for about 25 years was to ride in a hot air balloon.  Something about that whole experience fascinates me.  And in a larger sense, the whole  spectacle of many floating balloons – the color, the wonder, the romantic nature of it – has captured my imagination for a long time.

Since we live within driving distance of the world’s largest ballooning event – the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta – what better venue to take in balloon world than there?  More than 500 balloonists from 17 different countries converge this week for a nine-day adventure against a beautiful blue fall high desert sky and the Sandia Mountains.  You can imagine why more than 200,000 people converge on this extravaganza.

This year we decided to join them, and boy was I excited.

There’s one little snag if you’re interested in ballooning.  For some reason, probably related to science or somebody’s idea of a really bad joke, balloons are supposed to go up just at – or before – sunrise.  That means if you’re going to join the teeming masses to witness this wonder, you have to get up at about 4:00 and get to the park by about 5:00, or risk getting stuck in traffic.

Okay.  We soldiered through that Saturday morning.

Only to discover after two hours of waiting in the cold that the liftoff event had been cancelled due to high winds.

Oh.  And there was no guarantee that it would be any better the next day – another weather front was moving in.

Awesome.  Just another reminder that…

I Don’t Handle Disappointment Well

I didn’t weep, wail, or gnash my teeth.  At least on the outside.  I was a trooper as we wandered through the many vendor booths on the way back to the car (Grrrrr).

I was as polite as I could be when I asked if anybody knew what the forecast was for Sunday.  All I got was hearsay (it was all anybody had), but the hearsay wasn’t hearing so good.

Pfffffft.  Somebody popped the top and let all the air out of my emotional balloon.

Since we had to come home Sunday afternoon, all of this was setting itself up as a colossal waste of money and a massive disappointment.  We looked for ways to redeem the day (starting with sleep), but found ourselves bumping up against frustration.  It got so bad that we gave up and went to a movie and even the popcorn didn’t taste good.

(After that we found out the evening activities, which we thought would be cancelled, went on as planned, and we missed it.  Arrrrrrgh!)

Day 2, Plan B

Disappointment hurts, and anticipation built up by years of imagination hurts more.  But it’s a part of life and one of the ways God builds (or reveals) character.  I knew all that in my head, and even went through some spiritual motions of offering my disappointments up to the Lord.

But I still held on to part of them.

It was sort of like, “Lord, I give you my disappointment, but I’ll hold on to the grudge.”

I’m not sure it works so well like that, but there you have it.

Robin and I decided that the best approach to Day 2 would be for me to go by myself, since it was supposed to be really cold and there were no guarantees for launch.  The wind forecasts looked really borderline.

When I got on the freeway headed toward the Balloon Fiesta Park, I noticed the traffic was lighter.  In fact, it seemed to be less than half as heavy as the previous day.

“Great,” said cynical me.  “They’re all asleep in their beds because they heard something I didn’t hear.”

Unlike the long line from Saturday, I didn’t stop until I reached the parking attendant.

The Encounter

Maybe it was the Lord. Maybe it was an angel.  Maybe it was John the Baptist with his head reattached.  But on this day he was dressed like a parking attendant for the Balloon Fiesta.

Lowering the window, I fished for any information he had.  “Have you heard anything about the plan for today?”

“Haven’t heard anything yet, but we’re really hopeful we’re going to have liftoff,” he replied with a smile.  His voice was pleasant and soft.  Beyond just friendly, he was kind.

I was not.

“Well I sure hope so after yesterday,” I groused as I handed him a twenty dollar bill.

Still pleasant, still smiling, he gave me a ten in change.  “Enjoy the fiesta,” he said.

“I sure hope so,” I muttered, repeating myself.

It’s a choice,” he said, still in the kindest of tones.  But his words soared past my cynical attitude and self-protective growling and landed squarely on my heart.


I.  Was.  Convicted.  My joyless heart exposed.  And I had some serious repenting to do – with or without a Sunday morning launch.  I had sunk to a place where I was no better than one of my grandkids who’s just been told that we’re leaving United Supermarket without buying them a helium balloon.  Waaaaaah!

Finding Joy on the Ground

My prophet was absolutely correct.  Whether or not I enjoyed the fiesta – or any other event in my life for that matter – all comes down to a choice.  I could decide to find joy regardless of the circumstances, or I could reduce my entire life to being controlled by the speed of the wind.

How utterly stupid – to so pretend that my life was so Godless.

So I did what I needed to do.  I repented there before I ever left the car.  I grabbed my camera and decided today was going to be a day of joy and a photo op – regardless of whether I saw the first balloon in the sky or not.

I chose joy.


One whole day and a kick in the heart later  from the Lord, I decided to join them.

Oh, and did I mention…?  It was a gloriously spectacular sight.  But before the Dawn Patrol ever ascended at Fiesta Park, my heart did some ascending of its own.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Martha Orlando October 8, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Such a coincidence, Andy! Another blogger friend recently posted about choosing joy. Yes, it is a choice, indeed, and one we all need to make for the positive.
The photos are wonderful, too!
Sending to FB.
Martha Orlando´s last blog post .." . . .My Run, Run, Run, Run, Runaway . . ."

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