Most people know, I don’t like to fly. It’s not the act of flying, but just walking aboard that “Tube of Death” with a bunch of strangers up above the clouds at 32,000 feet. If I had my own private plane, I’d be great. Yes, I feel like a wimp. Oh, and I don’t just feel like a regular wimp, but I feel like a Christian Wimp. That’s even worse. I’m suppose to be strong in my faith and here I am letting everyone know whenever I express that fear, I am a Christian Wimp.
So, here comes Spring Training and it’s that time for me to board a plane. Phillip and I arrive at the airport on a Saturday morning and I’m thinking, “Okay, good. There aren’t many people here. Fewer “nuts” that could get on the plane with me.” Oh, but that didn’t last for long. Nope, this flight was going to be packed. So, all of us who will be boarding that Southwest Airlines plane for Phoenix/Sacramento are sitting there checking each other out. You know I think a lot of people do after 911. One lady was really staring me down. Maybe I looked like “the nut” boarding the plane. I get up and go to the restroom, stare into the mirror, and yes, I do look a little nutty. Time for my ballcap and a Dramamine. I’m all set. Then I start thinking to myself, “Stop it. I need to concentrate on God, not on my fears.” So that’s what I did. I went back to my seat and concentrated on God and I thought to myself, “God always puts us where we need to be.” Phillip says, “Looks like we will be in Group C. I hope we will be able to sit together.” He worries about me being nervous, so sweet. I say, “It’s okay if we can’t.” A lady’s voice comes over the intercom, “This flight will be full. Only ten seats will be empty.” Okay lady, that’s okay.
We board the flight and move our way slowly towards the back of the plane. No seats remain together. I look to my left. There is a middle seat and the lady who was staring me down earlier. I decide I need to sit there. Phillip finds a middle seat behind me. I get settled in- between the “Starer Downer” to my left, and a lady to my right who is leaning against the window with her eyes closed. I try to speak to the “Starer Downer”, but she will have none of that. Okay, this could be an awkward, nobody say a thing to each other, kind of flight. “God always puts us where we need to be.”
The takeoff is great. I decide to pull out my ‘Magnolia Journal’ magazine and bear down on reading about Chip and JoJo and all their cuteness. I come to an article about a woman who decided she wanted to be a rancher in her 60’s. The one thing in this article that stood out to me was what this woman’s daughter said to her after her mother had a ranching accident and wanted to give up…”If you let fear control you, your world will get smaller, and smaller, and smaller.” I thought, “God always speaks to us when we listen (and read).”
The flight attendants are coming around getting our drink orders. My favorite part of a flight, a Ginger Ale and peanuts. The “Starer Downer” has been engrossed in her games on her IPad. The lady to my right has been half heartedly reading her book and dozing. She tries to put her sweater on and I offer to help find the sleeve. There is my opening. I introduce myself and she introduces herself as, Nancy. I ask her if she’s going to Phoenix or Sacramento. She says, “Phoenix.” Then she spills out, “My mother just died and I need to just get back to work.” Oh my. I rub her arm, not sure how she felt about that, and tell her, “Oh honey, I am so sorry.” Then I feel tears. Good golly. Yes, tears rolling down my cheeks. “God places us where we need to be.” So we talk. Well, mostly I let her talk, but I do tell her I understand and what I felt when my father died. I told her how I worry about my mother being so far away. Nancy lives in Phoenix and her mama was in San Antonio. Then she asks why I’m traveling and we talk about the happenings in Phoenix. She tells me about all there is going on in Phoenix, what I need to go do and see, and she smiles a little, but her eyes are still so sad. Maybe her mind was able to get away from her grief for a few moments.
The flight attendants come around for the trash. The flight will be ending soon. I tell Nancy I want to pray for her, and I do, there in our seats above the clouds. I see her again at the baggage claim. She smiles and waves goodbye. Isn’t it crazy that even in just a few moments, we can be an influence on each other, that God has us cross paths with someone at just the right time? It’s beyond my little human brain.
I do think of Nancy everyday and hope with each passing day, she is doing a little better in her grief. God did place me where I needed to be on that flight. Maybe I helped Nancy, I hope so, but she helped me. She helped me to see that when I do fly, I need to stop thinking about the “nut” that may be in that “tube” with me, and start thinking that being in one of those airplane seats is an opportunity. An opportunity for me to share Him with others. Whether that be through my actions, a conversation, or through a word of prayer, I need to take advantage of that open door, or open seat. Thank you God for always placing me where I need to be on this earth and in the air.
“You are the world’s light—a city on a hill, glowing in the night for all to see. Don’t hide your light! Let it shine for all; let your good deeds glow for all to see, so that they will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:14-16