Thursday, March 30, 2006

It's Not HIS Fault

Thanks to Continental Airlines, the saga continues...

After a GREAT 3 days in the mountains of the Chattahoochie Forest, I hopped in the car with a couple of guys to head back to Atlanta International Airport. My flight took off at 2:15pm and we headed to Bush Airort in Houston--a flight that takes a mere hour and fourty minutes. But when we arrive in Houston the weather is so bad that we can't land, so we circle Houston for another hour. Then we circle it for another hour. After two hours of this 15,000 feet merry-go-round, they send us to New Orleans.

Thirty minutes en route to New Orleans, the captain announces we don't have enough fuel to get there, so we're putting down at Lake Charles. "It'll take about 15 minutes", says my guide to the friendly sky, "we'll just refuel and take off to Houston...thanks for your patience."

When we get to Lake Charles, we get stuck on the runway (weather again) for another hour and fifteen minutes. Finally, we are up and heading back to Houston.

When we finally touch down at Bush, 8:03 to be exact, I have obviously missed my 5:30 connecting flight to Austin.... Good times. The frazzled woman wearing a nice, shiny 'How can we help you?' badge is not looking forward to my visit. I need to get to Austin. Now.

Her name is Sandy. She tells me there are two flights to Austin tonite. 10:50pm and 1:30 a.m.

"You are freakin' kidding me, right?" I ask. I forget I'm a minister. "I've been circling your airport all night. I need to get to Austin NOW. I know it's not your fault, the weather and all, but your company screwed up my flight outta here on Monday and I don't want you to screw it up any more than absolutely necessary!" My voice begins to tighten...I'd better just walk away.

I do. And as I'm walking, I her Sandy calling, "Sir! Sir! Excuse me?!"

I whip around on my heels.

"For some reason, the computer shows that your 5:30 flight is still sitting at the gate. You can go down to E9 and see if you can get on...if not,"

Forget it. I'm already gone. My new target is getting on the plane at E9, whatever it takes.

God, in His mercy, smiles on my flight-plight. There's a sweet little lady at the gate who squeezed me into one of the last two remaining seats. It's cramped. It's crowded. The lady next to me smells like BO.

We make small talk about travelling. About Austin. And we sit on the tarmac for an hour and a half waiting in line to get off the ground. But at 10:15 we touch down in Austin. Thank God and Continental.

More than one person has asked me, "Do ya' think God just didn't want you to go to Atlanta? Seems like you had lots of problems..."

Sheesh. You're kidding me, right? Do we really think that following Christ is about living a life with no frustrations? No headaches? Is the gospel really about following some kind of messianic Santa Claus or benevolent genie-god that makes life easy? Give me a break.

It bugs me how much God gets blamed for things. Flight delays. Car trouble. AIDS. Wars. Miscarriage.

Jesus told you that in this world you will have trouble. Why are we surprised when it happens? It just confirms the truth of God. Sometimes stuff just happens--it's part of life. Yet we are quick to place blame somewhere. Anywhere. And who better to blame, than God himself. After all, he had the power to control it, right? Why didn't he? Is he mad at me? Did I commit some kind of sin? Who sinned so that this happened? (sound familiar?)

Granted, there are times when God disciplines His children. There are times when God closes doors as we try to walk through them. There are also times when the reality of spiritual warfare becomes apparent and it seems those forces are working against us as we work for the Kingdom. All of this is true. But why is our first response to blame God? Is it because we think everything revolves around us? Is it some kind of Puritanical guilt that we're being punished for our many sins? Is it that we see God as some kind of intangible father figure that shakes a finger at us from thousands of years ago and says, "Don't do it or I'll spank you!"

Stuff happens. 'Why' it happens we can debate. The more important question to me is 'How do you handle it when it does happen?' What does it do to you? What comes out of you? Because what comes out of you is what's in your heart.

When stuff happens, don'tblame anyone. Ask God to make you more like Christ through it. Our goal is not an easy road, but Christ-likeness. Remember: "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Don't blame God. It wasn't Him.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Two Outta Three

Two days of learning to save the world.

One more to go.

Final Destination

I couldn’t sleep Sunday night. And it’s not anything spiritual like over at Steve McCoy’s space. It’s just my old buddy, Insomnia, back for another visit. At 2:46 a.m. I got out of bed and flipped on the tube. Reruns. Infomercials. Fitness equipment that promise great abs in only 4 minutes a day.

At 4:45 a.m. my alarm went off. I hit the shower, grabbed a jumbo cup of Starbucks, and headed out to Austin-Bergstrom Airport to fly to Atlanta via Houston.

At 6:00 the lady at the Continental check-in desk tells me I have no ticket. (Long story I won’t go into here.) So, I pay a mere $800 for a ticket at the gate. I’m ticked. Not only am I out $800, but it’s 6:00 in the freakin’ morning. On a Monday. With no sleep.

At 8:00 I arrive in Houston to transfer to Atlanta. But my Atlanta fight has been delayed from 9:00 to 10:15. No biggie. I haul freight across the mongo-airport that is Bush International, I check my email, make some phone calls, and I’m good to go.

But wait. Now it’s been delayed to 10:55. Arrgh.

Nope…now it’s been delayed to 11:50.

Make that noon.

I’m actually headed to be a part of Global Youth Ministries’ Youth Ministry Mentor symposium. Since I’m officially old for a youth guy (39 next month), I guess they figure it’s time for me to start giving back to the ‘ol community.

Thanks to Continental Airlines, now I’ll be the crotchety old grumpy youth guy sitting in the corner, slurping coffee and mumbling that it’s past my bedtime.

I’m thinking, “This better be good.”

Today is Tuesday and, so far, it is.