Do you mind another airplane story? Ready or not. Here it comes. If you pay attention, you can find a message in just about anything. And God can speak to you just about anywhere. Like the airplane.
Lily, Barbara and I had stayed up way too late talking the night before we were all heading home from Miami. (the end of our Cuba missions trip) We stayed up till about 1:00 a.m. and I had to get up at 4:00 a.m. to catch my flight. I don’t require much sleep but I do function better on more than three hours.
I knew I could get a little sleep on the plane because I had a window seat. I was looking forward to resting my head on the side of the plane and sleeping until we reached Houston. I was tired.
When I boarded the plane and got to my row, a mother was sitting in the isle seat and her little boy was sitting in the middle. I smiled at the lady, looked at my beloved window seat and said, “That’s me.” She got up and let me in and I crawled over the boy.
I tucked my bag under the seat in front of me, buckled up for safety, let out a sigh of relief and rested my head against the window. No sooner had I closed my eyes than I hear, “Ma’am? Ma’am? Excuse me. Ma’am?”. I opened an eye and saw a man standing over the seats in front of me looking straight at me. Other eye opens.
“Would you mind trading seats with me so I can sit with my family?”
“No. No. I don’t mind at all.” His window seat. My window seat. Makes no difference to me.
The mother gets out of her seat. I crawl over the boy and wait for the man to take my seat by the window. While I take his seat… in the isle.
It didn’t take me long to figure out that I am now sitting with Grandma and Brother. I look back and dad is sitting in the middle and the boy is sitting by the window. My window.
After the plane is in the air, I pushed the button to recline my seat the full inch and a half for added comfort. But, alas, my seat was broken. It’s okay, Gwen, make the best of it. Just close your eyes and go to sleep. Sitting straight up. With nothing to lay your head on.
Then I remember, I can put the tray on the seat back in front of me down and lay my head on the tray. I’ve done it before. That would’ve been a great idea if the seat in front of me was sitting straight up. I think that guy’s seat got an extra inch and a half to recline because there was no room between us. No laying my head down.
It didn’t take long to get a crick in my neck from trying to get some sleep any way possible. If only I had my window seat. But… that’s fine. Really. I’m over it.
Well, Grandma, who barely speaks English, lets me know she needs up to go to the restroom. I get up and let her out then sit back down. Then Brother looks at me and says, “I gotta go, too.” I get back up and let him out.
Then thought occurred to me… I could just slide over to the window seat and I’d be back in business. But, I guess the polite thing to do is ask, right? I’m sure he wouldn’t mind changing seats with me. After all, he wasn’t even making good use of the window.
Brother got back to his seat before Grandma so I asked him, “Would it be okay if I sit next to the window?” He looked at me out of the tops of his eyes, wrinkled his forehead and shook his head, “No”. I’m sure he didn’t understand me. So I asked him again. “This seat. Would it be okay if I sit in this seat?” He proceeds to crawl right over me to the window seat while shaking his head saying, “No. It’s mine.”
Great. That’s fine. Enjoy your window seat.
During the flight (while I’m wide awake) I look back at my window seat and I notice… this whole seat exchange happened because both boys wanted the window seat. And neither of them are making good use of the window! In my row, Brother is lying on Grandma (believe me, I thought of that, too) and little brother is slumped down in his seat (my seat) playing a video game? (I detect that I could still be a little resentful – I should take care that)
But here’s what I noticed. And it hit me like a ton of bricks (not the resentment thing). Those boys were doing what grown-ups do all the time. They were wasting something that was of great benefit. It would’ve benefited me greatly to be able to sit in the window seat and rest my tired head against the window. But they weren’t doing that. Make good use of the window! At least, look out it occasionally, for Pete’s sake. But no. They were wasting a perfectly good window seat.
But that’s what we do. God puts perfectly good gifts, talents, dreams and ideas within us and sometimes we waste them. We just let them lie dormant being of no benefit to us or anyone else. Why do we do that? Why do waste the gifts, talents, dreams and ideas God places within us? Oh, I don’t know….
Maybe we’re distracted.
Maybe we’re afraid.
Maybe we’d rather stay in our comfort zone.
Maybe we think we’ll fail.
Maybe we’re intimidated.
Maybe, maybe, maybe…
I don’t know why. But I do know that God has placed make-a-difference potential inside of each one of us and He’s given us everything we need to get started. Just get started and He’ll complete it.
Philippians 1:6, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. (NKJV)
Don’t waste it. Just start it.
The night we stayed up way too late talking, my dear friend Barbara Parks said, “God never wastes talent.” I believe her. God never wastes talent. But if we don’t pay attention, we’ll waste the talent He gave us.
Let that never be said of us. Let’s not leave the gifts, talents, dreams and ideas in the state of potential. Let’s move them past potential and develop them for God’s service and His glory.
What God has placed inside of us can be of great benefit to others. So let’s get over our fear. Get over ourselves. And get moving. You know what they say, “Use it or lose it”. Now that would be a waste.
Photo by GothPhil