While working on a plan to spend the 2017 Christmas vacation with my wife, who was in the US at that time, I found a cheaper air ticket from China Southern Airlines for a flight from Bangkok to San Francisco. The offer included a free 4-star hotel stay in Guangzhou, China during a 12-hour layover. I grabbed a ticket for our daughter and myself. Our departure date was Monday, Dec 18, 2017. When I called the ticket office on Friday the 15th to check the hotel booking, they told me that we needed a Chinese transit visa to use our ticket. When I booked the ticket online, there was no clear indication about visa on the website.
Living 130 km away from Bangkok, applying for a visa on the same day I called, Friday, was impossible. The remaining option was to process it on Monday and fly the same night at 7:00 PM. It was a slim chance, but the only option.
According to their website, the Chinese Visa Application Service Center accepts applications in the morning and releases passports at 3 PM. It appeared that we could make it to the airport before check-in closes at about 6:15 PM.
10:00 PM on Monday- I submitted all the required documents according to the criteria on their website. They also asked for my wife’s passport copy which the list on their website didn't include. Providentially, I had a one from our 2016 trip.
10:15 PM- They accepted our applications, but the release would not be at 3:00 PM as I hoped but at 3:50 PM. It increased the risk of missing the flight, but it was still possible to make it.
10:30 PM- We thought of leaving our luggage in the same building and go to the train station to check and be familiar. No shop in the building where the visa center is located would let us leave our bags. Fear of BOMB. A young Thai lady who heard our conversation informed us we that could use a locker service at the train station. She was our angel. We did as she said. With no luggage to carry, we were ready to use a motorbike taxi after getting our visas. Using a motorbike taxi is the fastest option in Bangkok.
2:30 PM- We went back to the service center. I checked what time we would get our passports back. They told us it would be at 5:00 PM. "What?" There was no way we could make it before 6:15 PM at the airport if we got our passports at 5:00 PM. I asked what the 3:50 PM appointment meant. She said it was only to get a number for the queue. The practice is that they send the passports to the embassy at another location and usually get them back at 5:00 PM. A lot was running in my mind. Why did everything run so well to fall apart in the end? But I was also thinking, ‘Nothing is impossible with God.’ I decided to stay hopeful. I tried not to think about my daughter’s disappointment if we couldn‘t make it. She was missing her mom so much.
4:25 PM- We received our passports with visas. The passports arrived much earlier than the office itself predicted. PRAYERS ANSWERED, but it wasn’t over yet.
4:35 PM- We arrived at the train station.
4:50 PM- We boarded the train.
5:45 PM- We were at the airport lining up to check-in. We were the last.
6:10 PM- We submitted our passports for check-in. For international flights, the advice is to check-in at least two hours before the flight because of immigration control and security check. Sometimes, the immigration officers may ask for more documents, and it may cause a delay. We needed one more divine intervention.
6:15 PM- As we were leaving the counter, the supervisor who was watching the anxious father and daughter came from her desk, called us back and gave us a PRIORITY PASS for security check and immigration. We were guided to line up with diplomats and pilots. It is much faster with a priority pass.
6:30 PM- We were on the airplane.
I believe it was DIVINE INTERVENTION that connected the dots, not random events. It all happened in the same week my daughter asked me some tough questions. While having an open discussion, she asked me, “How can we be sure if what we believe about God is true?” It was a difficult question to answer because she wanted more than referring to the Bible to answer the question. You can't use the Bible to prove the Bible's claim that God is real. Because the next question will be, "How do we know if the Bible itself is true?" God reveals Himself in many ways: through nature, the Bible, the life of Christ in the Bible, the character of His followers and through providence. By providence I am referring to circumstances that clearly show the dots in your experience are connected by the guiding hands of God. The circumstances surrounding your experience become too good to be true. They become extraordinarily synched to consider them random events. Then you will be compelled to say, "Thank you God".
Experiencing God's providence, however, requires submitting our will to Him and dependence on His wisdom ahead of the circumstances to unfold. If we keep in touch with Him constantly, we will easily discern His guiding hands when events scheduled by God unfold. If we earnestly ask Him, "Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; all day long I wait for You," He is faithful to keep His promises (Psalm 25, 4-5).