I started my today nervous about my first business trip ever. It was the first time I would be driving myself to the airport and flying alone. I always compensate for my anxiousness by planning ahead. Giving my world structure gives myself the illusion of being in control. So I got to the airport two hours early and was ready to go. I had even contacted the co-worker I was supposed to meet in Miami to coordinate our shared cab ride to our hotel. He said not to worry, that he would hail a cab when we got there. Perfect. One less thing to worry about. As I’m sitting at my terminal I realize my gate is not for my flight. I check the departure board and notice that not only has my gate changeQhd but my plane is at a completely different terminal! So I hop onto the sky rail and go to the opposite side of the airport. Finally. My gate. The RIGHT gate. After a while, a woman comes over the intercom explaining that there has been a slight delay. The plane I was supposed to be boarding had been struck by lightning prior to landing at DFW and needed to be checked out. They were currently searching for a replacement plane. She assured us that we would be leaving in 30 minutes…. An hour and a half later, I finally board the plane. I had to call my co-worker and tell him to go on ahead of me to the hotel. Now I would be hailing a cab by myself… something I’ve never done before. I take my seat among the other passengers. As I begin to read my book, the pilot tells us to hang tight while they check on a maintenance issue. At this point I’m just laughing. I figure everything has gone off my plan so obviously I’m here for a reason. In my uncommonly good mood for a passenger on a delayed plane, I made a witty remark that caught the ear of the guy sitting next to me. For the life of me I can’t remember what I said or how we started our conversation but we talked the entire 3 hour plane ride. He was 24 and active in the air force. He worked with private intel and couldn’t tell me much due to the secrecy of his position. However, what he did tell me was fascinating. As I began to learn more and more about this man and his life, I began to realize how caring, dutiful, and lonely he was. He wasn’t allowed to talk about his job, moved frequently, and was an introvert, causing him to have few friends. But he loved his job. He loved helping people and was thankful for his blessings. When I asked him how he got the job he has and he told me he chose his top three options and the air force and his test scores chose for him. They were the following:
#1: bomb defuser (ala Hurt Locker).
#2: fireman (equally as dangerous in combat).
#3: choose for me.
His test scores were so high the government put him in special ops/intel. He couldn’t tell me much but I do know he saves and protects the lives of soldiers everyday. The survival of wounded men rests on this young man’s shoulders. I told him that it was obvious that he was put where he was for a reason. Seeing that he was carrying a heavy burden on his shoulders, I asked if he had anyone to talk to, any friends.
I then asked if he was a religious man.
“No, are you?”
I said yes and we talked a bit about religion, just surface level stuff like how he put “Jedi” on his dog tags as his religion because he didn’t have one, etc etc. As the conversation diverted, I felt convicted to keep talking about God with this young man. I went to the bathroom and said a quick prayer asking God to bring up a point in our conversation where it would be a natural transition to religion. He did. I spent 30 minutes explaining what a personal relationship with God looks like. I explained how Jesus fulfilled hundreds of prophecies, died for us, eliminated the need for rules and rituals, and provided us with the gift of eternal life. Turns out, this young man had not only never heard the gospel, he didn’t even know Jesus was a real person. He had never read the Bible. After my explanation of Jesus, I encouraged him to evaluate who he believed Jesus to be: a lunatic, a liar, or Lord. As our conversation diverted once again, I began to feel self conscious. Did my babbling explanation of the Gospel sound convincing? Did I sound silly or offensive? Did this guy understand anything I said? As all these worries swarmed through my head, I suddenly felt a sense of peace. I was reminded of a message I once heard that spoke directly to this situation. It is not our job to convert others. Eloquent speeches, scientific/analytical explanations, and fuzzy feelings don’t cause people to believe. It is between them and God. God doesn’t call us to convert people. He calls us to share the Gospel. I was obedient and that’s all that mattered. Before the plane landed, I asked his permission to pray for him. He looked skeptical but told me that prayer never hurt and that I could. As we walked off the plane, I lost him in the crowd and didn’t get the chance to say goodbye and wish him luck. I then remembered I had the daunting task of finding a cab. As I walked out of the airport, a taxi was waiting for me, having been hailed by my heavenly Father.
Everything happens for a reason. If my plane hadn’t been delayed, I never would have made a comment about it and would have simply continued reading my book, ignoring the people around me. Instead God gave me the opportunity to witness to one of His children. I’ll never complain about traveling again.
Please pray that Steven, the 24 year old man with the world on his shoulders, would see that he isn’t bearing the world alone. He is loved and appreciated by a God who is keeping him safe and has blessed him with the talent of helping others. Please pray that others would reach out to him and teach him more about Gospel and the hope we have in Christ.