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

Challenged by Continual Change!

change_road_signOne of the difficulties we all deal with is continual change… a lack of permanency in work, home, family, church, school, politics, and friends. The constant ebb and flow of people in and out of day-to-day living takes its toll. Of the Top 20 stressors in life, job change, moving house, and lack of friendships made the list. If we’re honest, as guys we tend to just suck it up and gut our way through all of these.

In this ever-changing world, there are so many questions. How deep do I want to go with that neighbor? Do I even want to make an effort to plug into a church or be a part of a faith community… who knows how long and at what level I can be involved? With all my current responsibilities, I may not be able to make a difference so should I even get involved in the civic realm? Change and the dynamic, transient nature of today’s world can bring unsettledness, fear, loneliness, and even a sense of depression. Most of us as guys don’t even want to think about these emotions and if we don’t, they don’t exist… right? Wrong! We will have to deal with them sooner or later!

The good news is that God never changes. In Hebrews 13:8 it says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” But who is this one true God? Throughout time God has shown that He is a God of mercy. Mercy is not getting what you deserve. He’s also shown that He is a God of grace. Grace is getting what you don’t deserve. Even when people failed, rebelled against Him, and even murdered His Son on the Cross, he forgave them and restored them. It’s only in Him that we can get rest, have true relationships, be forgiven, experience true love, and have peace in the midst of change and turmoil. He wants that full life for you and those you know. In John 10:10, Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

More good news. God leads the way and is always with you. Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” In Joshua 1:9, God speaks to Joshua but also speaks to you and me. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Think about this, the Creator of all things is with you wherever you go!

So how can you experience this full life in the midst of all the change and turmoil? A great starting point is to get plugged into a Christian, worshiping community no matter how much time you think you have! Let me be clear… when I say “plugged in” I mean at least weekly. God has given us community to help experience His love, forgiveness, and grace. Hebrews 10:23-26 encourages us to “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

It’s in a healthy Christian community that you can be encouraged when things look bleak, you can experience strength, support, and forgiveness when the world gives otherwise. You can find rest and refuge in a difficult world. My prayer for you is that you experience the fullness of life in Christ in spite of what the world throws at you!

To all who are in the midst of change right now…

As you go on your way, may God go with you.
May God go before you to show you the way.
May God go behind you to encourage you,
beside you to befriend you,
above you to watch over you, 
below you to support you,
within you to give you peace.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit. Amen

-Gerry

The “Reading Room”

toilet2Before you read much further, this particular musing is not for people with delicate sensibilities…

Many of us, at one point or another in our lives, have spent significant time sitting in the “reading room.” So you aren’t confused and we’re all on the same page, I’m speaking of the bathroom and sitting on the “throne” or “pot.”

Have you ever wondered why people sit in there so long? It’s not a particularly pleasant setting… the ambiance isn’t exactly inspiring, the seat isn’t exactly comfortable, and the aroma can’t typically be classified as pleasant. Most of the reading materials I’ve seen aren’t up-to-date and the games that sometimes can be found in the “reading room” aren’t exactly the most state of the art digital games. So the question remains…why is it such a popular place?

I’ve heard it said that it’s the only quiet place in the house. Others have said that it’s just a habit that got started when they were kids and it’s the only way “it” works.  Still others indicate that it’s a solace from the demands of the world… a time that they don’t have to “be” someone or do anything. Moms say that it’s sometimes the only way they can get any alone time….but the kids keep knocking on the door.  So is it really a place of refuge or one of those places that we hope is a place to get away?

But the real question is, how many un-pleasantries and discomforts will we tolerate for a false, temporary sense of peace, rest and solace? I guess we all have limits.

Too often we believe that uncomfortable, smelly, and unpleasant are sometimes better than the alternatives. But… there is only one source of true peace, rest and solace… it’s in Christ.

What are you willing to put up with instead of experiencing true peace?