“To read the Bible according to God’s providential order in your circumstances is the only way to read it, viz., in the blood and passion of personal life.”
~O. Chambers, Disciples Indeed
Air travel is at odds with personal space. Private domains end on the jet bridge, at least that’s the way I felt when my wife and I boarded a Boeing 737 for our flight from Charlotte-Douglas International Airport to Dallas-Ft. Worth en route to our home in Waco. Group Four entered last (I’m always in Group Four), making for a long and uncomfortable trek down the gauntlet of comfortable passengers in business class and weary travelers in coach, all the way to our assigned seats near the aisle and middle of the 25th row. As we located our spots, we found that a young red headed woman with brightly colored tattoos covering the exposed skin of her right arm was already seated next to the window. The 25B on my boarding pass meant that I was supposed to sit next to her. My wife could tell from my body language that the last thing I wanted was to spend the next three hours uncomfortably wedged near the tattooed female, so she came to my rescue and said she would switch places. Fighting a twinge of guilt, I accepted her offer and silently prayed she wouldn’t be too inconvenienced while I settled in to exercise one of my spiritual gifts–airplane slumber.
I’m often more adept at preaching truth than living it, while my wife heralds well the Gospel in ordinary ways with extraordinary impact. As I physically slumped and mentally eased into airborne siesta, my wife engaged in small talk with the red headed stranger. In short order, the two became friends; the young lady introduced herself as Cherish and proceeded to narrate her life’s story. I caught only snippets of the conversation, but enough to know that she was honorably discharged from the military following three tours in Iraq, that life is hard for a female guard in a male dominated maximum security prison, and that she was holding out hope for more. My wife listened compassionately and shared just enough of her own story to underscore God’s grace in a contagious manner. Only God knows how Cherish’s story will end, but no doubt her next chapter will include some serious consideration of the Christ-life my wife described and displays. Being in the right place at the right time has far more to do with discernment and courage than anything else. I am by no means denying providence, simply reinforcing that it comes into focus when we courageously help others in Jesus’ name. While I was paralyzed by inconvenience and discomfort, my wife saw an opportunity to participate in what God was doing.