That was the question I asked myself standing three rows from the back of a sold-out airplane about to depart Chicago for my hometown of Mobile, AL…. “What are the odds”?!
A couple hours prior I had arrived in a cloud of dust at gate M18, wife and three kids in tow, to find the flight we thought we were going to miss was delayed for two hours.
Relief far outweighed frustration and I gladly took a seat on the outskirts of the crowd, then settled in to watch a movie with my fourteen-year old.
We were about twenty minutes into the movie when a voice began to dominate the conversations going on in front of us, and it just kept getting louder. Then it began to wander our way.
Turns out, a young woman had been unjustly charged for two rooms, not just one, by the hotel she had stayed at the night before. She had been wronged, she was angry, and she wanted her $100 back!
Anyone within ear shot of gate M18 surely came to the same conclusion. Everyone that is except for the hotel rep she was talking to, who was having none of this “refund” business. And on it went.
In short order the young woman had worked up a good mad and was now pacing up and down the terminal between my sitting area and the gate counter, all but yelling at the person on the other end.
The “relief” I mentioned above had worn off and it was rapidly being replaced by old guy irritation. Enough is enough and everyone is annoyed, you should say something Shane!
I had my words prepared for her next boisterous trip by my seat, and I had every right, to ask her to take the argument beyond me to the next two gates. They were closed and no one was sitting in that area, but at the last moment, I refrained.
Fifty years of living had taught me that the likely outcome from my request was that the totality of the anger she had conjured up would now, warranted or not, be fully directed at me, and there sat my sons, and a host of strangers, all with a front row seat to the potential smack down.
Thankfully, the conversation lost steam within a few moments, a bit later the gate opened, and we all boarded the plane.
Arriving at seat 24D I stopped for the first time since boarding and looked back. Standing directly behind me was the woman that was beside herself earlier. Waiting patiently for her seat, which happened to be 24E. Directly beside mine.
Again…. “What are the odds”.
The “relief” I mentioned above came pouring back in as I was profoundly glad that I had kept my mouth shut. Something a younger version of myself very likely would not have done.
Being thrust into a seat beside someone I had just had a verbal confrontation with would have been awkward, but on the other side of the coin, and as a Christian…. what about my witness?
Not just my potential witness to the young lady but to my ever watching three sons, and the dozens of strangers watching as well?
Additionally, how long does it take to repair your witness once it is damaged? Ponder that one.
Thing is, if you talk to me very long these days, I’m likely to work faith into the conversation. Especially with a stranger. I am interested to know what others believe and I am eager to share what God has done in my life, since I got in the boat and started doing my part.
On that note, who is receptive to hear about Christ from someone that just picked a fight with them, or they watched pick a fight with someone else? The answer to that one is simple. Nobody in the crowd.
I don’t know that I will ever live long enough to fully embrace the directive to “turn the other cheek”. I’m Human, I’m Shane and I’m a Hale, but I can say this….
I am better than I once was because my desire to share Christ with others, through my actions and my words, far outweighs my desire to defend my own foolish pride. Ponder that one too.
I did learn that the young lady was refunded her $100 but not much beyond that was said, as she fell asleep the moment the plane left the ground. The point was made very clearly though…. “Shane, protect your witness”.
To answer the question “what are the odds” of this woman sitting directly beside me that day? They were 1 in 161.
Long odds, but long odds are one of God’s favorite tools to show his work, and His way, in our life.
Get In The Boat. Do Your Part.
From Nose to Toes!
Shane / #16
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouth, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” – Ephesians 4:29
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