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.


§ 2 Responses to Jesus on an Airplane

  • Olivia says:


    How cool! You have taught Jon and me, through example, how to rest in God given opportunities when it comes to witnessing and when it comes to the results of that witness. Jon and I have been talking a lot lately about how the Gay community can be reached when the overwhelming response to them by evangelical Christians has been so judgmental and just generally hostile. In the past two weeks, I have been in several different situations where I have spent long hours working with gay people in a work environment. And because this is something fairly common in my professional life it has really weighed on my mind lately. Because I love people and I love to talk to people, I end up getting to know a lot about them in a relatively short period of time. Inevitably, we end up talking about their partners and their lifestyle in general. The past few days I have spent twelve hours days with a guy that has been vilified by the Christians that he has come in contact with and he had deep wounds as a result. As I listened to his story it simply broke my heart and I somehow began to love this man. I saw him for what he was, a wounded sinner just like me. I did not really have an opportunity to share the Gospel with him, but I will be working again with him in the near future but I realized that I God had done the work in me that needed to be done before I could ever really witness to this man in an honest, Gospel driven way. Thanks for teaching Jon and me how to love this city!


  • Fred says:

    “What encourages me is that Jesus is always in the business of finding people where they are…”

    What encourages me is the freedom we have to use just the time we are given without “needing” to do more. What I mean is, if Jesus wants her to hear me or to take her somewhere else in her journey, He can, He will, and He’ll just use the next guy or gal, and the next and the next. We never (that’s a strong word, but I think “never is right) need to stress or have pressure.

    Years ago on my first missions trip to Ukraine (11/1993) we were teaching state school teachers “Christian Ethics and Morality: A Foundation for Society.” Naturally, the gospel came up and naturally we answered questions about the Bible. I recall one prominent pastor (still today in our denomination)staying late with one teacher. She was the “only one” of his group of 8 who had not accepted Christ. While the rest of us waited and the bus was help up he talked and talk. Finally, she “accepted Christ.” Well, maybe… I think she just wanted to get out of there. Obviously, I’ve never forgotten that. “Let go and let God” seems trite, but “Relax a little… don’t you know who’s sovereign?” rings true to me. 🙂

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