Not long ago I was on an airplane which was approximately the length of a school bus, and maybe even a little narrower. Personal space had no more meaning than what I imagine the inside of a sardine can would feel like. And, yep! I was surrounded by a family of four – two of them under the age of four. Their need to hop up and down, move constantly and change seats continually, parents included, was phenomenal. (And I was the one who had the triple shot of espresso in my cappuccino before boarding!)
Within the first thirty minutes, at cruising altitude, my cup got knocked over, my laptop was firmly gripped by the little boy’s very sticky fingers (pressing several keys at once while I was trying to write) in an effort to keep himself from falling onto my lap as he got trapped in his iPod cord. And the background noise of pages being ripped from the airline magazine during the last half of the trip was far better than the screaming, crying, slapping demands of the youngest child during the first half of the trip.
Did I mention that I was hoping to have a peaceful, reflective time of prayer and writing while on the plane in order to prepare for a ministry event? I hope you’re laughing. I had to!
I was actually grinning. And shaking my head a little. But not at the hyperactive family. I was shaking my head at me, and laughing at me, because of God’s truth that continually reminds me that: Life and life’s circumstances and life’s interactions with others are just not all about me. And certainly not about my plans. I have come to know this so very well, so very often!
Be wise in the way that you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so you may know how to answer everyone. – Colossians 4:5-6
God is good. And God wants His goodness, His love, His wisdom and His grace to flow freely and continually through each of us who are His children by faith in our Lord Jesus. Even when our plans are changed. Even when our peace is disturbed. The members of this precious, albeit hyperactive, family were still sadly “outsiders” to knowing Jesus Christ as Messiah and Savior – as evidenced by the yarmulkes and hair locks worn by the father and his young son.
God called me, first, to laugh at myself, laugh at my plans, and get over myself really quickly so that I could get with His plans that He had presented to me on this very small plane! God calls each of us to be His representative with all people, in all circumstances, at all times. Some small but potentially eternally valuable interaction can happen whenever we do things God’s way. So, for this very energetic family of four, and because of the saving and transforming grace that God has poured out to me, I could put down my laptop and set aside my plans to be present in the moment with them. I could offer smiles and kindness, patience and grace, as I chatted with all of them and played with the children during our flight – during this very short time we had been given to share a portion of our lives, and share a portion of our stories.
May God use everything for His glory so that all people will know of His love and salvation. Because all of us, who now know Jesus as our Savior and Lord, were once outsiders too.