Jennifer and the Missing 1st Class Passenger

If you’re like most people I know, you like to have your flight schedule nailed down. You know what seat you’re in, when you need to leave home, and when you’re going to board. But, it’s not just in traveling… a plan gives some peace and assurance. Many of us have plans for our marriages, work, finances, kids, spiritual growth, volunteer work, and physical health. When those plans don’t come together or a wrench is thrown into the works, stress, angst and even anger are many times the order of the day! It’s particularly tough when you don’t know until the very end whether it’s going to work or not!

That’s where Jennifer and the missing 1st class passenger come in… and by the way… thank you to both of them, whoever and wherever they may be!

Sara and I were given “Buddy Passes” for our trip from Austin to Denver a few weeks ago. The way it works is you are put on the standby list and hopefully you get a seat! The challenge is that you are put on the bottom of the list. All other passengers take precedence. So… we got to the airport, checked in on time… everything going smoothly. A little nervous, we kept asking and watching, but no answers.  Boarding began. Then an announcement over the airport system… “The lower level has been shut down for a possible bomb and we are evacuating that level. The bomb squad is investigating so at this time no one is allowed to leave or enter. No action needs to be taken by the people on the concourse.” Can you imagine what everyone was thinking… the lower level isn’t that far away… a bomb could take it all out… are you kidding us!!!!

And then… “Harrow party of 2 please come to the podium.” Awesome… now we can get out of this place! “Mr. and Mrs. Harrow, I’m sorry to inform you that we only have 1 seat left and the next flight is already full.” What? I’ve got to get there but I can’t leave Sara behind with a bomb! A sick feeling in my gut. Sara urging me to take the seat. But there’s still hope… they’re waiting for one passenger who had already checked in online… Jennifer! After what seemed to be an eternity… no Jennifer… the gate agent said to both of us… “follow me down the jetway.” He needed to check if they had missed her boarding. No Jennifer!!!! Whew… we both took our seats and we were on our way! As we taxied, there sure was a lot of traffic backed up… probably because of the bomb scare. THANK YOU JENNIFER!

getting a standby seat to go home So what did I learn? Reflecting on the experience, I thought about how we are called to follow Jesus in every aspect of our lives and, even though we have it all planned out, He may have different plans for us that may not even revealed until the last minute. So, how can I… we… be more open to changes and the dynamic life we’re called to live? By watching, listening, learning and following our Savior closer and closer each day wherever and whenever He takes us… even at the last moment! What a great lesson! That will probably show up in a sermon someday! Confidently and boldly… feeling pretty proud of myself… I thought, I can handle this much better now!

So after an eventful few days, we were looking forward to getting back to Texas. So… we got to the airport, checked in on time… everything going smoothly. Standby list looked pretty full… boarding progresses. “Harrow party of 2 please come to the podium.” Awesome… now we can get back home! “Mr. and Mrs. Harrow, I’m sorry to inform you that we only have 1 seat left and the next flight out is already full.” What!!! How is this going to work? No car or place in Colorado… how will we handle the Texas end? Let’s check other flights… maybe we can buy some tickets. $900… that won’t work. But there’s still hope… they’re waiting for one passenger… a 1st Class passenger! After what seemed to be an eternity… no passenger yet… the gate agent said to both of us… “follow me down the jetway.” He needed to check if they had missed him boarding. No 1st Class passenger!!!! Whew… we both took our seats and we were on our way! THANK YOU MISSING 1st CLASS PASSENGER!

So what did I really learn? That it’s really hard to fully give up our plans, our will, our future, our kids, our families, and marriages to God. How are you at that? God asks us to give it all up to the Creator of the universe… the one who controls nature… the one who provides every single thing we have. My prayer is that you and I both learn the peace, joy and freedom in living that way. It may not work out in the way or timing we want, but we know that it will work together for good.

Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose

-Gerry

Perfection and Grace

perfection-or-successSo… I’ve got to rant a little. There is no such thing as perfection in this life! One can always get a little more done, the service can always be better, and you can always find a flaw or imperfection in all things… so why should I rate anyone or anything a perfect 10?

Recently, we were asked to fill out one of those customer satisfaction surveys and it was made very clear that anything below 10s would cause trouble. Really? I have a hard time giving anything or anyone… especially myself… straight 9s, much less 10s! As I thought about it, though, the word “grace” came to mind. I came to the conclusion that they were doing well, they had been perfect… well as least as perfect as we humans can be and they deserved to be rated high! By the way, part of that reflection included doing some soul searching myself on how imperfect I really am and thinking who am I, an imperfect person, to expect true perfection out of someone else? So… it made me think even more about my relationship with my family and friends.

I realized that at times I’ve been pretty hard on people… expecting true perfection when it just wasn’t possible and then getting frustrated, disappointed and impatient. How about you? Have you found yourself expecting perfection out of your spouse and kids… and finding yourself disappointed? Maybe you’ve done it to yourself. I know I have. Beating myself up for not being a better dad, husband, employee or pastor.  That word “grace” keeps surfacing…

Jesus showed the perfect way of grace. He came to us while we were still sinners… undeserving, broken, rebellious, apathetic, pathetic humans with no chance of ever being able to measure up to God’s standard of perfection. Jesus came anyway. Jesus gave His life anyway. Jesus showed grace… free and unmerited favor. Isn’t that what we’ve been asked to do so others can know Him? Imperfect people giving other imperfect people grace…

But Gerry… isn’t that what’s gotten us in trouble? People getting trophies for just showing up? Hear me out on this… I’m not proposing that we look the other way when people don’t try, don’t care, don’t at least attempt to do well. But wait a second… that doesn’t even sound right. God showed us grace when we were trying to get away from Him… trying to do everything opposite of His perfect will. So what do we do? Maybe show a little more grace to our families, to ourselves when it isn’t all perfect.

I guess this is a really gray area. I don’t know all the answers but what I do know is “grace” is something beautiful. Grace, when applied well, heals, encourages, lifts a burden and is… well… just beautiful. So, what I do know is that this imperfect person is going to try to err on the side of grace more than I’ve ever done before.

By the way… I gave them all 10s.

-Gerry

Three Key Ingredients in Community

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“I like this place man. It’s like an online community, but in real life.” – Topher in Flaked

 

So far in this series on community we’ve looked at three reasons we need to be in community and three lies we tell to avoid community. Today we’re going to look at three ways to be in community.

 1-Honesty

To be in community with other men there must be honesty. Without this foundation, there is no community. Without it, this group of guys is just like any other organization that never gets below surface level issues. It will be a place that will never gets beyond the topics of weather and sports. And over time you’ll wonder why you even belong.

So what does being “honest” mean? It means not covering up the crap in your life and acting like you’ve got it all together. It means calling each other on BS. It means when you’re called out, to not deny or dismiss it. It means to man up and stop acting like you have it all together. To do this we need, humility, the next ingredient in community.

 2-Humility

To be in community there must be humility. Not the “Aw gosh, I’m not good enough.” type of humility. But, the humility that says, “I am here to listen.” “I have been there too.”, “I don’t have the answers, but I’m with you.” It’s humility, paired with honesty, that gets a community beyond the surface level stuff and into areas of the heart that need light, hope, and healing.

 Humility is not a low opinion of yourself or self deprecation.

 3-Hunger

To be in community there must be a hunger for more than what the world has to offer. We have a problem called comfort in our society. We get comfortable with our lives. We get to a place where we aren’t challenged, where we get complacent, where we say “Why bother this is as good as it gets.” But, that hunger has always been there and still is, it’s just been “covered” up by comfort.  We all have a hunger to be more, to be better, to be the men God has called us to be. You need to acknowledge that. Embrace it. Ask God to make you uncomfortable so that you can grow. A community with a godly hunger will move each other toward that.

 

“Hunger is what moves a community out of talking about problems to solving problems. It moves a community from commiserating to changing.”