Monday, December 19, 2016

Airplane Chronicles

At the end of the summer, I was super fortunate to spend a few days at the beach in Florida with some friends (basically family). One might say, "Amber, it's December and you are just now posting about something that happened at the end of August??" I'm working on being more consistent and posting things as they actually happen. Let's see what the new year brings because we all know that change always happens after the new year! ;-)

Anyway, during my farewell summer getaway, I had the pleasure of sitting next to a man that ran into some disappointing events. As he sat next to me, he kept saying out loud “unbelievable, look at all that space, I can’t believe this.” He was clearly irritated but I’m not one to just get into a stranger’s personal business, so I just listened and tried not to turn my head toward him. A few minutes later he glanced over at me, our eyes met, and before I could pray to avoid this conversation of complaining, he begins to tell me his story. 

He and his wife spent a long night at the airport the night before, waiting as their flight kept getting delayed. Eventually, their flight was canceled due to weather. The airline did not provide for their overnight accommodations, they were placed in the 4th seating group, and when it was time to board the plane with their carry-on bags they were told it wasn’t enough room. They were then asked to check their bag and pick it up at baggage claim. He did acknowledge…”well at least I’m here” His wife nodded as she smiled in agreement. She sat in the seat across from her husband as they both enjoy aisle seats. 

It was an inconvenient situation. At that moment, I could have told him that it’s better to rejoice always and pray continually in every circumstance. I could have said everything happens for a reason and maybe it was God’s protection that they were unable to board a plane in a storm. I had a few references to the Bible that I could have shared with him, but the Holy Spirit was a little quiet on words for me to say to him. Instead, without even thinking, I gently placed my hand on his shoulder and said with such sincerity, "that sucks!" I do realize that my words were not profound and totally on a kindergarten level. And it probably isn’t appropriate to touch on complete strangers, but sometimes I literally cannot help myself…it just happens without me thinking about it. I like to believe it’s the Holy Spirit taking over.

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.
{John 13:34-35}

As we continued our flight I decided that it was impossible for me to sit in the middle seat and not have my head continuously flop from being in an upright position to falling down without a place to properly rest my head for sleep. So I decided to read. I started a new book and it referenced some scriptures, so I pulled out my cute little pink and green Bible. Mr. Cancelled Flight watched over my shoulder. At one point he was actually READING my book with me. I found myself staying on pages longer so that he could soak in the words too. Or maybe he wasn’t and I just had the hope that he was, either way, he was watching my book as I read. 

He was quiet for the rest of the plane ride as he respected my desire to read. Ever so often I would just pray asking God to give me the words if this was an opportunity for me to be a vessel or share more love and instead this man just read the book over my shoulder. Since I didn’t hear anything, I didn't do anything...I waited to follow the Holy Spirit's lead. 

As we arrived at our destination Mr. Cancelled Flight was in a rush to get off the plane as Tampa was not his final destination. He still had to drive one hour to get to his home in Sarasota, Florida. As he walked off the plane he told me to “have fun” and that I was the “best middle seat person!”
Hehehehehe I’ve never heard that before but I was grateful for the new title.

That day we didn't debate religious views, I didn't mention scripture, I didn't tell him he was going to delay his promise land if he didn't stop his complaining ways, I didn't throw a Bible at him and force him to Bible study for our 3-hour plane ride (because that would just be weird). I'm not even sure of his beliefs. But I was able to relate to his frustration and give him a listening ear. It was during this time that I got to be a little glimmer of God's light. It wasn't a coincidence that I met Mr. Cancelled Flight, he sat next to me and got to view a little of my book with me. We all have a part to play when building God's Kingdom, whether it's big or small. It didn't matter if I planted the seed or watered something that was already planted. I know something happened that day...Hello, I got an award--"Best Middle-Seat Person" Ever!! **Okay, I added the "ever" part**

It's not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What's important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their hard work. For we are both God's workers... 
{1 Corinthians 3:7-9}

Now don't get my words twisted, I'm not saying that you have to entertain everyone's conversations or complaints. The moral of the story is to be led by the Holy Spirit. Speak when He says speak, listen when He says listen, walk away if He says walk away. It's so easy to get caught up in our own problems, to-do lists, and our feelings and moods that we miss the opportunity to be the very thing God called us to be, salt and light. {Matthew 5:13-16}

You never know how big or little your part might be. Imagine if I had been super rude to him and halfway listening when he tried to explain his story to me? Then I would have pulled out my pink and green Bible during the flight, and maybe I would have confirmed to him some negative Christian stereotype. God doesn't need us to build His Kingdom, but how great is it that He chooses to use us? We should never take for granted small talk and our actions toward others. Showing the love of Christ should be one of the ways that set us apart from the darkness in this world.

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