By Erica Windham
During the summer that I turned eleven-years-old, my family went on vacation to Atlanta, GA. It just so happened that the entire Osmond family was staying in the same hotel where we were staying. It also, just so happened, that my little nine-year-old sister, Kim, and I heard the hotel staff saying that Donnie Osmond was on the 11th floor of the hotel and they even said his room number. You may be asking yourself, “What are the chances that they would happen to overhear such a conversation?” Right? Me too! I knew it was fate. They were giving me the chance to meet my heart throb. So, Kim and I devised a plan to go stake-out his room.
Now, my parents had left us at the hotel, under the supervision of my sister, Shan, who was 15-years-old, while they went out to dinner. We told Shan that we were going to ride the elevator to "check out the pool" and come right back. You know how most kids love to push elevator buttons? Well, Kim and I were no different. We had played on the elevators for a couple of days going back and forth from our room to the swimming pool. This particular hotel had two sets of elevators. One set was located just down the hall from our room, and the second set was around a couple of hallways. The second set of elevators were the ones that took you straight to the front lobby of the hotel. We called these the "big elevators" because they were roomier and decorated nicely. During this stake-out adventure, we went around to the "big" set of elevators and hit the button to go to the 11th floor.
At this point of our vacation, I was confident that I could have been a professional bellhop, like the ones I saw in the movies. I could press the correct buttons in those elevators without even looking, or so I thought. Donnie's room happened to be located directly in front of the elevator. When we reached the 11th floor, the doors opened, and my eyes immediately locked on the door to his room. I can still remember to this day the excitement I felt as I stood in that elevator, assured in my heart that he would walk out of his room, look into my eyes, and fall in love with me like I was in love with him. The plan was to stay in the elevator until we saw him come out. (We were 9 and 11-years-old, remember?) As we were watching his door, and talking about what we would say to him when he came out of his room, I reached over to push the button to hold the doors open. Well, all of a sudden alarms started ringing all over the entire hotel. LOUD ALARMS! Immediately, I knew the mistake I had made. The elevator doors wouldn't close, and the bells wouldn't stop ringing. By mistake, I had pressed the fire alarm button. Out of sheer panic, I took off running for the other set of elevators, yelling for Kim to follow me. Poor thing, she had no idea what was happening, and as I was rounding the 2nd corner, I looked behind me and didn't see Kim. I just knew we were going to jail, or worse, my mom would find out. I ran back to get her and found her standing in front of the elevator doors dazed and confused. I grabbed her hand and took off running, again. We rode the other elevators to our floor and made it to our room. You could hear the alarms ringing, very loudly, on every level of the hotel. When we got to our room, Shan was worried and asked if we knew what was happening. We told her what we had done, and to protect us, and throw whoever may be investigating why the alarms were ringing off of our track, she called down to the lobby. When the operator answered Shan asked her why the bells were ringing and if we needed to exit the building. Of course, they assured her it was a false alarm and that everyone was safe.
I am, to this day, certain to look at the buttons on an elevator more than once, before I push them.
I have to confess that I have often made the same types of mistakes throughout my life. Thinking that I knew just what I was doing and had no need to “watch where I was going” all of a sudden, I would find myself running for my life trying to escape the outcome of my choices. Sometimes my choices only affected me, and sometimes there were people I left behind dazed and confused. I have, through the grace of God and His faithfulness, changed from being that person who too quickly pushes the button. I often compare myself to the disciple Peter. He, too, was quick on the draw with his decisions. Remember that he pulled the knife out and chopped the ear of the soldier off in the Garden of Gethsemane before Jesus could even say “stop!” Thankfully, Jesus saw the heart of Peter. He knew what mistakes Peter would make before He ever made them, yet, He chose him anyway. Father God knew the choices I would make as well, and, yet, He adopted me as His own. He has faithfully and lovingly forgiven my ignorance and my wanderings. He has restored me to Himself and many times He has been so gracious to me that He even allowed many of my mistakes to stay between me and Him.
I wrote this post to tell you that if there is hope for me... there is hope for you! God is in the redeeming business. He doesn't keep a record of wrongs. He is faithful and just to forgive us. He is patient and kind. He tells us in Psalm 46 that He is "very present" with us. He repeats this throughout the Psalm saying, "The Lord of hosts is with us." His word says, "Cease striving and know that I am God." I don't know about you, but that speaks straight to my soul.
Jesus has chosen me to be His disciple at this time in history. He has also chosen you! Will you follow or will you stay back dazed and confused?