Sometimes God arranges the people He puts in your path so you can be an encouragement to them. That’s why we need to pay attention to those around us.
Last weekend, we were ready to board our flight home from Hawaii when the gate employee asked if we would switch seats with an elderly couple because they were not strong enough to open the exit door in case there was an emergency. I thought that was a great idea because there would be more legroom for tall guys like me, but I should have known that God had other things in mind.
When we settled into our seats, my wife, Betsy, was next to the window, and I was in the center seat next to a lady named Holly who was on the aisle. The Hawaiian Airlines airplane was taxiing to the runway when I noticed that Holly looked distraught. I asked if she was okay, and she said, “I hate flying. It really scares me.” I asked if she flew very much and she said she and her teenage son and daughter often travel on vacation to different places. Then I asked a question I usually ask when someone shares about a stressful situation they are going through. I asked, “Do you pray?” She said “yes,” but didn’t sound very convincing. So I asked, “What is your church background?” She said, “I’m Buddhist” and then added that she was raised in a very strict church school situation. She shared that this was a bad experience for her, so she stopped going to church altogether and eventually converted to Buddhism, probably because her husband was a Buddhist.
After we were airborne, she asked, “What is the difference between the church she was raised in and other churches?”
I explained that the heart of Christianity is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and that it’s not about Dos and Don’ts and rules. I took her thru the Share Your Faith app to explain what God has done for us to invite us into a personal relationship with Him. She really liked the diagram, the explanation, the animation, and the clarity of it. She had never understood that before.
When it came to the prayer, I handed the phone to her so she could read thru the prayer at her own pace. Then, while still holding the phone, she prayed and asked Jesus to forgive her, to come into her life, and to begin to lead her.
Afterward, we reviewed God’s promises (ESPN) about Eternal life, Forgiveness, a Personal relationship with Christ, and the fact that God would Never leave her no matter what. That’s when she said, “That is so encouraging. I really needed to hear that.”
Well, that was about 30 minutes into our flight; we still had about 4 hours to go. So, she wanted to talk about the emptiness in her life, how to grow in her relationship with Christ, Christian friends she needed to get close to, how to find a good church, how to encourage her teenage kids to Christ, how to be a better wife to her husband, and how to deal with all the negativity and shameful memories that keep coming into her mind from the enemy.
Finally, I said, “You know, I think God put us together because He is reaching out to you to draw you closer to Him. He knew about all the hurt, loneliness, and fears in your life, and He wanted to help you find your way to Him. She filled up with joy and tears and said, “Nothing like that has ever happened to me before. Thank you so much!”
As I look back on that situation, it was obvious to me that God put us together. He switched our seats (Divine circumstances) so I could be an encouragement to Holly. It was very special.