Saturday, March 24, 2007

Flight 763

To any student reading this-just think.....your only moments away from $2!! I look forward to your thoughts and to a great conversation about how we can follow Jesus unashamed of the gospel we believe in! All my love - Doug


I got buckled into my seat on the airplane and was listening to music on my ipod. Lana was sitting next to me and we were talking/reading/listening as we waited for the plane to take off. (Which is a totally different story b/c we had to wait for 1 hour or more on the tarmac before takeoff.) Anyway, as we are sitting there a girl our age or a little younger comes and sits in front of us. You can tell pretty quickly that she is a social butterfly and full of energy. You can also tell that she isn't all that happy with her seating assignment that landed her right in between two other people who were minding there own business and not interested in engaging her in conversation. By her definition-boring.

As Lana and I exchanged pleasantries with the guy next to us (you know the routine: where are you from, what is your reason for travel, small talk, etc.) she keeps looking back at me through the seat. At some point it got kind of awkward as she kept looking at me. I couldn't figure out why until the guy we were sitting next to mentioned that he was catching a connecting flight in Dallas to his home in California. (He mentioned this because of his growing concern that he may not make that flight) At this word she whipped her head around and said, "Your from California? I am too! What part?" At this she began to talk to him with her neck twisted around about all things California. At this moment she had what she had been looking for: someone like her. Someone who she could identify with and connected with because of similar interests they discovered that they shared.

As they began to talk it was quickly apparent that Lana and I were not being invited into the conversation so we continued on trying to do our own thing. The problem was that the conversation was so loud that it was humanly impossible to mind your own business. So much so that one lady across the aisle eventually asked the girl to turn around and be quiet. She got in trouble! Pretty funny, actually. This only frustrated the girl in front of more and she began to continue the conversation with the guy in our seat at a much lower volume.

Eventually, there was some seat exchanging and the two flew the rest of the way next to one another. The drank, laughed, shared stories and got to know one another in their own loud way. (on a side note, the girl ended up drinking so much she passed out.) As the flight landed phone numbers were swapped and promises were made to connect when they got to California.

I share this story in hope that you will have a great picture of what went on 5 and 1/2 hours of my life one Monday. I want to ask some questions and offer a personal confession.

First the questions:
1. What can we offer to the people in this situation? At times like situations like these seem hopeless and the world seems lost. I hurt for these two and I couldn't help but wonder, "would Jesus EVER be attractive to them?" I

2. How can we spend more time where lost people are? As I rode on this plane I felt as though I had very little to offer because I didn't know the environment where these to lived. I didn't hand out in bars and didn't get smashed every night during St. Patrick's Day weekend. (Which both mentioned doing) I am not saying that we should all go do this so that we can more fully relate. I am only asking questions.

3. Where did we mess up how beautiful the gospel is? Or has its beauty always remained and something else is responsible for the change? How could it have lost so much value to people like these? What verse would you pull out of your memory to help in this situation? My point is this: it seemed as though these two were living "Life to the full" in the here and now. While I believe life to the full involved Jesus Christ I have to wonder how he would fit into this crowd. Would he have joined the party? Rebuked their behavior and sinful lives? Spoken a parable to them?

The thing about Jesus that I love is that he was always so good in situations like these. He knew what to say and how to say it. He was the best at loving people. I am tipping my hand a bit but I think that we have messed up what he intended to be inviting and attractive. Not easy, but still beautiful. The Gospel is Good News!

And the confession:
Which brings me to my confession. If the gospel is good news why do I (maybe we?) not like situations like this? I confess and repent that I am ashamed of the fact that I am a believer in situations like this. I don't want people to find out I am a minister. I don't want them to know about what I believe. I want to keep my eyes on my book or magazine or my ears plugged with music.
I guess I am just ashamed at some level. It sounds terrible, I know, that's why I had to confess it. The question really is why am I ashamed? Why do I feel the way I do? Don't I believe that Jesus has come so that we might have life and have it to the full? Yes. Don't I believe that we have hope not only for this life but also for the one to come? Yes. So why the feeling of being ashamed?
Truthfully, I don't know. I don't think in my head I am really ashamed of following Christ. However, when I think about my life I know that I pass up opportunities to share my hope everyday. Why is that? Doesn't sound much like someone who has a song in his heart and a message on his lips, does it? When will I stop making excuses and start living out the calling that I have received? When will I stop asking forgiveness for my sins and start surrendering them to God so that I can be free to live as He intends?

Flight 763 has been bothering me since I got off the plane and arrived home. Following Jesus is still the most rewarding life I know. I just want to be more like the Jesus that I am following and not the person that I am. Let's make that transformation together.



Cody said...

Good story. I love these kinds of stories because there is so much about human relations wrapped up in a small space. I've been sitting here reading your questions for a long time trying to decide what I think about them. Here's something I thought:

Why not go spend time in a bar on St. Patrick's day? If you really want to be involved in the lives of people like this, that is a good way to do it. You don't have to get drunk and pass out, you don't even have to drink. You also don't have to go and sit there like a bump on a log holding a Bible in one hand and pointing out sins with the other. If someone is to be reached, for any reason (Christianity, business, romantic purposes) the way to do it is through relationship. We all know how to form relationships. It's just that when we become Christians we seem to forget how to form relationships with people who aren't Christians. Everyone becomes a project, someone to "win for Christ." People can smell that a mile away. As you said, that girl just wanted someone to listen, someone to share with, someone like her. Mostly, she just wanted someone, anyone, who would give her the time of day without judging her.

Just a thought.

Adam Smith said...

I'll say this. You may not feel like you have a good handle on these situations but at least you're willing to admit the inadequacy at times. The majority of us (namely myself) don't even have that kind of honesty.

It seems to me that the best I can do in some of these types of situations is listen. At times I have wondered why Jesus took so long to start his "ministry." Of course I don't think he actually waited that long, but why depict him that way? Then I remember the things he must have experienced in the first 30(?) years of his life. I often feel as though right now (being 23) I still need training, in the sense of real life situations where I just listen to people and observe what happens in real life. At some point I need to get involved; but should I always? These are hard but good questions and I applaud your ability to assess the situation and wonder about it.

Anonymous said...

im sure Jesus would have done all three that you mentioned and even more. it's not allways possible for us to help some people and God knows this. i probably couldn't "pull a verse out of my head" as you put it, but that's only because im not that healthy in the memory department. the best thing i can think of right now (computer's fault, not mine) is a phrase from the left behind series stating "if god planned for 144,000 evengelists after there was no hope of heaven, what would be the point? there is always hope of god, but that doesn't mean we should take our time in excepting him." on a not-so-different note, several versus say that God loves us and will do everything in his power to save us, even, as we all know,(however morbid) send his son to die on the cross, becoming the ultamate sacrifice for our sins. 2000 years after he was nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be if we all were nicer to each other and some people still don't know that God loves them. (you know Doug, im just trying to annoy you with that one nowadays. yeah thats what you think im thinking, and you right. it's a joke, hehe. i never did well with tight stuff where no one can laugh.) like other comments said sometimes we cant help people like this but there usually is others who can. this doesn't mean we shouldn't try or that we should feel bad if we don't get through to them. sometimes all we can do is pray that God will help the lost and continue to give support to those that only need the tiniest smidge of a push.

PS: if my typing sounds like some other things that you know of please don't take it against me as i have no creativity when i need it

see you on sunday, Doug.
Andrew N W(or E)

Larissa Smith said...

Doug, I think a factor in our hesitation to reach out is that we don't have a clear image of what it looks like to be genuinely, passionately Christian in an obvious way.

We've all known people who appear to be pious - with their words or public praying or carrying a Bible at all times - who have failed to measure up in the sincerity department. Thus, we want to separate ourselves from what we have known as false indicators of spirituality, but are not sure what to use instead. We would rather be perceived as "normal" people than over-zealous Bible bangers who don't live up to the act they put on.

More and more I am realizing how vital a true understanding of the fruit of the Spirit is. They are not things that we are supposed to try to do. They are things that come naturally and freely when the Spirit is alive in our lives. It is only when those attributes come so naturally to us that we won't hesitate to reach out with simple kind words or true interest in the other person. Then we will obviously be different, but not fake, and that is the life that we can invite others to join with us in Christ.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Doug. Where to begin. Mabye with the question I kind of know how to answer. I think I know where the Gospel/Good News lost its beauty. Through us. And not particularly you and me...but past, present, and future Christians who have abused the way we are supposed to live. (And sometimes that might include us). There are people who WAY overdue trying to get the message out that it becomes annoying, to be honest. And the other extreme: People who don't do a single thing who help get the message out and live their lives completely opposite of the life we have been told to live. For example(although I wasn't there, I'll go from what you have told us and your blog), the man and woman on the plane could have claimed themselves to be Christians. You probably think: no. But there are plenty of people in our lives that do the exact same thing. That's where the gospel has become un-beautiful(in my eyes).

Well, I'm done for now. Pre-Cal homework calls my name loudly. More later, hopefully. Hope to talk to you tomorrow.

Kelsey Sanders

Anonymous said...

It might have seemed that in my last comment that I was judging and hating on people. I wasn't trying to do that. It just seems that so many people who claim themselves to be Christians do the opposite of what the Bible tells us. And I do include myself in that. Maybe it's because we haven't been taught how to live. I know I have, but many people haven't. Or maybe we take it WAY too lightly. We never want to judge or hurt other people, but sometimes we need a wake up call to what God commanded us to do! I am guilty of living my life like I have forever to make a difference. And I know that I don't. Everyone knows that they won't live forever, or even to 18(for me) or 23 or 43 or 73. Then why don't we act like we won't live forever? What will it take to make us(and me)live our lives like Christ. And back to Doug's point...why are we ashamed to be a Christian sometimes. I know I am guilty of that. I've even been ashamed when I've been with other Christians who might live their lives more lax than I do and that somehow makes them better than me. When did this idea that doing worldly things become the "best" way? And why have Christians gone along with it? I know that living a Christian life is the most rewarding and by far the most secure(I mean that like we have God to be there instead of doing it ourselves). I don't know if any of this came out right, but I think that being a Christian became unattractive when we, as Christians, stopped holding up to the title. When we stopped recognizing that being a "Christian" is not only a title, but a lifestyle. When we stopped caring that the future of people's destiny is in our hands(and that's the scariest one of all, that we might be responsible for someone not going to Heaven because we were ashamed of being a Christian).

This probably sounds crazy, and I might very well be crazy.

Kelsey Sanders