Jesus on an Airplane
June 19, 2008 § 2 Comments
On a recent trip to Miami (to perform a funeral), I sat beside a woman who would be attending a nine-day seminar at a hotel in the City. The seminar was intended to help this woman, and many others, overcome their fears, sins and shame by virtue of the strength of their own thinking.
She confidently asserted her message with me – that is, until the jet began to race down the runway for takeoff. With that she became visibly nervous as she stiffened up in terror. The irony wasn’t lost on me.
Throughout the flight I learned that she was a single Mom and a former athlete and coach. While her ‘ex’ lived with his girlfriend nearby, she was dating an older guy. Her church experience was a story of extremes. She was raised in a rigid guilt-imposing environment that she eventually discarded for a less defined religious expression that recognized Jesus as Teacher, but not Savior. ‘We would rather save ourselves,’ she said to me. Reading between the lines I realized that she was a wounded, confused person – looking for answers, hoping that her life wasn’t wasted, or over.
As you may already have figured out, by that time she knew my occupation, and as invariably happens, the conversation became decidedly spiritual. Don’t get me wrong – I like it when that occurs, because my resistance to make a big deal about it allows for getting back to the other person’s story – knowing that the details will somehow fit into an opportunity to weave it into the larger narrative of the Gospel.
Eventually the inevitable came because ‘what goes up must come down’– it was time to land. Whatever nervousness our friend displayed on the way up, paled in comparison to her sense of fright at the thought of landing.
Partly in jest, I said, ‘Is this the part where I tell you about Jesus?’ For some reason she softened and responded affirmatively – almost to say, ‘Yes, please tell me.’ From there I was permitted the privilege of speaking the Gospel to this woman. I could tell that the simplicity of the message was appealing to someone who had to twist all sense of reason and logic to believe what she was about to experience in that conference.
I have no idea of what will come of that conversation – I’m not one of those Christians who feels compelled to press for a decision that may or may not be real at the moment. It may be that she was simply comforted to the extent that her fears were distracted to some degree by virtue of our conversation. It may lead her to a deeper place where she comes to faith. That is my hope.
What encourages me is that Jesus is always in the business of finding people where they are and in spite of where they’ve been – even if at 34,000 feet in a packed airplane.