Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Airport Spirituality

Home again, home again. I was dreading my return trip, but fortunately, it was not nearly the struggle as last week. My sister got up to take me to the airport at 4:30am, and I was safely in Savannah a mere 5 hours later!

Spending that much time in airports last week (close to 24 hours over 2 days) gave me a lot of time to think. On Monday, after not getting on 2 flights, I was getting nervous. I threw up a couple quick "God, help me on this plane!" prayers, though I actually felt a bit guilty, because I don't necessarily believe that God is in the business of making someone else miss his flight so I can get his seat (weird, I know...). I'll admit, they were half-hearted prayers.

I didn't get on the flight.

Next flight, two hours later. I was sitting at the gate, thinking. At this point, I had held it all together pretty well... but after not getting on 2 flights the day before, sleeping only four hours, and arriving at the airport at 7am only to not get on another 3 flights, by 4:30 I was starting to lose it. I felt myself falling apart inside. How much longer could I sit there?

Then, my old instincts started to kick in...

Maybe God is teaching me a lesson. Maybe he wants me to pray more sincerely, or... talk to someone... or... learn patience... or... something...

So I prayed. God, pleeeaaase let me on this flight. I was humble. I was sincere.

And I didn't get on the flight.

So what then?

Well, then I removed myself from my subjective desperation, making the shift from the overly emotional back to the cognitive, and reminded myself of what I actually believe...

That God is intimately involved in our lives on a daily basis, but that that involvement has more to do with guiding us in how we react in situations than it does getting him to "pull strings" for us- get me on this flight! help my headache to go away! don't let me run out of gas! (I saw somewhere online today that Calvinists shouldn't use the phrase "car accident" because it's contrary to their theological belief.)

Sure, God intervenes. Sometimes. When? That's for him to know, and us not to. What I do know is that I'm not going to attribute things to him that may not necessarily be his work.

I know, I know... I'm treading tricky water here. This raises a debate on the sovereignty of God that I have discussed with many people, from varying sides of the issue...

I believe God is sovereign, in absolute power. Omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. No qualms there. And yes, I know ALL the passages that point to his intervention (back in my Moody days, I could argue the point of absolute sovereignty with the best of 'em...). I believe those to be true. I believe the man in John really was born blind so that God's glory may be revealed. Why do I believe that? Jesus said so.

But does that mean that EVERY person who has EVER been born blind has been so for God's glory? I think they can glorify him in their reactions and attitudes- but in John, Jesus was talking about his ability and decision to supernaturally heal in that unique situation.

I digress- back to the airport...

It made me wonder... if I start behaving in a certain way after a minor pseudo-crisis, a mere inconvenience, what would I do when tragedy really does strike? How does that apply on a universal scale- what changes when hard times come?

I suppose that, on a personal level, Jon's deployment- and the peripheral marital stress it caused- was probably the "hardest" thing that has happened to me. And I have to say, it was at that time, the times of the most wondering and questioning, that I came to rest more than ever in the fact that God does not cause pain. Sin causes pain. Even more often, the indirect result of living in a fallen world causes pain. Why do we feel a "lesson" must be gleaned through every difficult event? I have known people who adamantly believe that God causes every thing to happen and we should never question him... and yet, the only way they get through hard times is by convincing themselves of some divine fortune cookie wisdom. Again, I need to caveat- God does indeed discipline his children; he certainly can and does interact with circumstances to teach us lessons. Sometimes. Again, I can't say when.

Why did I sit at the airport for two days last week? Because I made the decision to fly standby, and the flights were overbooked.

Or... maybe, the guy who had a ticket and made it on last minute just prayed harder than I did...

No comments: