I’ve spent a lot of time in the air (over a million miles on Northwest Airlines alone—that’s 25 times around the equator). I usually picked an aisle seat so it gave me at least two possibilities for talking with my neighbors about the Lord.
Sometimes I completely missed what He was doing. Like the time my flight was delayed coming out of Minneapolis because of high winds in Detroit. I’d been away for three weeks and had just one night at home before going to a conference weekend in NY. But we sat on the runway in Minneapolis so long that by the time I landed in Detroit, it was too late to catch my flight. That meant spending the evening in a cheap hotel in Detroit instead of being at home with my family.
Now you must understand that I had prayed and asked the Lord to use me on the trip home. But what good was this? I was sulky, and confess I murmured against the Lord in my heart because of the wasted night.
The next morning, at some unearthly hour, I found myself back in DTW arranging to change my ticket to fly directly to Schenectady. Because I was a “disadvantaged passenger” (and maybe because I seemed to be grumpy about it), they bumped me up to First Class. Big deal. Slightly wider seats and free liquor.
But when I got on the plane, I noticed that behind the First Class curtain it was packed. In First Class, there were only two of us. And they put us side-by-side. Strange thing to do. I decided I’d move to get more space after take-off. Remember, I’m in a sour mood and definitely not interested in witnessing.
It was an older woman beside me, well dressed and dignified. I noticed she took a small card out of her purse and began looking at it intently. And as she read it, I also noticed she began to softly weep. Hmm, maybe the Lord still controlled the winds, and this was the reason for yesterday’s debacle. I had asked the Lord to use me, and when He arranged it, I gave Him a hard time for it. Shame on me!
I leaned back into the leather seat as far as I could, but still couldn’t read what was on her card. Finally, my curiosity getting the best of me, I asked, “Excuse me, ma’am, but what’s that on your card?” She showed it to me. In a woman’s handwriting, it read, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6.”
They wouldn’t come to my mind as the best gospel verses, but I was interested to see what would come of this. “Those are beautiful words, aren’t they?” I commented. “But may I ask you why you’re weeping?”
She told me she was returning home from a visit to a hospital in Minneapolis. Her daughter was there, recovering from an attempted suicide. Her son was a drunkard. He had lost his career, his family, his health. He was out on the streets somewhere; she had no idea where he was. “And they worst of it is,” she added, “I have nothing very helpful to tell them.”
While she was visiting her daughter, a lady she met in the hospital had given her this card and told her it would help her. “But,” she queried, “what I can’t understand is this: the woman said it was Jesus who would help me. But isn’t this the Old Testament, and didn’t Jesus come in the New?”
I felt like Philip talking with the eunuch, except my chariot was traveling at 500 miles per hour. Just as surely, the Spirit had arranged our visits, except Philip ran to intercept his contact; I had dragged my heels. But the Lord used us both. What a joy to share with this dear woman how the Jesus of the New Testament was the Jehovah of the Old. In fact, “Jesus” was simply the Greek form of the old Hebrew name meaning “Jehovah is Salvation.” The woman was ready to “trust in the Lord” with all her heart as soon as she understood the Way.
What is the worth of a searching soul like that? It cost our family an evening together. It cost the Lord Jesus everything. I had to spend the night in a cheap hotel. He was born in a barn, slept under the stars, was hanged on a tree. No First Class for Him. Nevertheless, my dear family often paid a price so the work of the Lord was done. But “the Lord God of Recompense” is no man’s debtor. Speaking on this very issue, He says He will repay a hundredfold! I can’t wait to see how He balances the books some day.