For me, flying is a necessary evil. Due to the nature of my
work, I must sometimes travel to different regions of the country
in the pursuit of a story or speaking engagement. Most consider
it a great convenience to be able to board a plane on the east
coast and arrive on the west coast in a matter of just a few
hours. To me, I would almost rather ride a bicycle to my destination
than partake in the complimentary peanuts and beverage provided
by my friendly flight attendant. Let me explain.
For whatever reason, I have never had great success flying
the friendly skies. My brother is a great traveler, often flying
two to three times per week. He often regales me with tales
of his exciting airline adventures. Always positive, the conversation
usually ends with an update on how many million frequent flyer
miles he has acquired since we last talked. I am convinced he
knows every flight attendant in America on a first name basis.
I on the other hand have lost my luggage more
times than the New York Yankees have won World Series championships.
When it comes to airline misfortune, believe me, I have experienced
• I have taken a flight to Philadelphia that actually
ended up being a four hour ride (yes, you read that correctly)
from New York City to the City of Brotherly Love through rush
hour traffic on an un-air conditioned bus in the middle of July.
• Speaking of Philadelphia, I have been delayed, detained,
or de-planed in this city more than 10 times for odd, sometimes
• I have waited several hours on the runway while airline
mechanics tried to figure out how they were going to change
a flat tire on a plane filled with 200 unruly passengers.
• I have been on commuter flights where I have been asked
to change rows so that the plane can maintain proper weight
distribution. (I don’t know about you but this always
makes me nervous.)
• I was on a flight once when the flight attendant actually
used a baseball bat to get the main exit door open. This after
flying through a severe thunderstorm where it felt like someone
was beating on the side of the plane with the same baseball
• I have even been detained and questioned by airport
security personnel regarding a butter knife in my briefcase.
They were not amused when I explained I had used it to butter
a muffin once on my way to work and had just thrown it in my
As I have already mentioned, nothing is more frustrating than
the airline losing your luggage. My most recent experience with
misplaced baggage took place just last week, not in Philadelphia,
but in Chicago. It is a story worth sharing due to the valuable
spiritual lesson it taught me.
Having been delayed in California due to high winds in Chicago,
my flight arrived in the Windy City nearly two hours late. Normally
this would not have been a problem but Chicago was just the
connecting city in my journey to my final destination in Virginia.
Although my flight to Virginia had technically left twenty
minutes earlier, our flight attendant suggested that many other
flights had also been delayed and that we should check the departures
monitor in the terminal as soon as we got off the plane. Her
suggestion sounded fair enough so I made it a point to do just
To my delight, the departure monitor listed my connecting flight
as “Now Boarding”. Fantastic, I thought, I will
make it just in time. However, there was only one problem. My
plane was departing from another terminal, more than a 15 minute
Without hesitation, I began racing through the airport just
as fast as I could. Under normal circumstances I am a pretty
agile person but due to the computer bag and briefcase I was
carrying, my agility quickly dissipated into the clumsiness
of an old bear just waking up from a long hibernation. Old ladies,
young children, nor businessmen were exempt from the impact
of my flailing carry-ons as I barreled through the concourse.
(If you are reading this right now and were a victim of my onslaught,
I honestly and truly apologize to you.)
Eventually, I arrived at my gate, exhausted, sore, and extremely
disappointed. The plane had pulled away from the gate just five
minutes earlier. I had missed my flight. The only option my
airline afforded me was to catch the next flight which did not
depart until the next morning. I was stranded in Chicago for
the night. I asked if any other airline had a flight to my city
later in the evening. One did, but I would have to fly standby
as it was completely booked. Furthermore, it was leaving in
40 minutes and was in yet another terminal.
“How far of a walk is it?” I asked.
“About 15 minutes if you walk fast,” the airline
Denizens of O’Hare International Airport beware …
the desperate, hibernating bear with the flailing carry-ons
is coming through again! I sprinted, er, lumbered through the
airport toward my next destination. As I struggled to make it
to the next terminal, I was embarrassed when I realized I had
not asked God for help even once during my ordeal. With my head
bowed due to fatigue and my personal failings, I began to pray.
“Oh Lord, I am so sorry. I should have leaned on you
from the beginning of this episode but due to my frailty as
a human I have once again tried to control the situation on
my own terms. Please forgive me.”
I meditated on my shortcomings for the rest of the long walk
to the next terminal. Upon my arrival, there was no airline
representative at the gate to greet me. But instead of getting
incredibly frustrated, or even angry, I began to pray again.
“Lord, I know you do not give anyone more than they can
handle so I guess I am well prepared to deal with this situation.
But I am very tired – physically and emotionally. I have
been gone a week and I just want to go home. Amen.”
Just then the airline representative arrived. I explained my
problem to her and that my airline had booked me onto her airline’s
flight as a standby passenger. She smiled, took my information
and entered it into the computer. Then she did it again. And
again. After the third time her brow took on a furrowed state.
Finally, she said, “Sir, your airline has not released
you from their database. I’m sorry but I cannot put you
on this flight.”
Rather than arguing with her, I smiled and calmly asked, “Could
you check with your supervisor to see if there is anyway for
me to be released.”
Sensing my controlled but polite frustration, she said she
would. As she dialed her supervisor’s number, I began
to pray with more emotion than I had in quite some time. My
silent cries were filled with a fervency that I could not explain.
However, my passionate pleas to God were soon interrupted by
the airline representative.
“Excuse me sir. I’m sorry but I was typing in the
wrong code to access your account information. Here is your
ticket for the 7:30 flight. We will begin boarding in about
“Praise God!” I blurted to anyone who was listening.
After a brief pause, I turned to the airline representative
and said, “I bet you don’t hear that much these
She smiled and replied, “About 10 times a day and I love
it when I hear it.”
I didn’t fully understand what she meant but it was good
to know that people are still praising God in public.
In Luke 12:22-24, Jesus said to His disciples, “Therefore
I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat;
nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than
food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens,
for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse
nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you
than the birds?”
In times of trouble and heavy burdens, we must go to our mighty
Savior in prayer. For so many of us, in our daily lives we feel
like we are carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders,
trying to control matters in the best way that we know how.
That is not the best way. We worry, wondering how our needs
can possibly ever be met. In our frailty, we stumble and just
when we get up we fall again.*
In times like this offer the Lord this humble prayer: Renew
my spirit, Lord, that I may trust in You for my daily provisions.
As your Word says, You feed the birds from Your vast storehouse.
Teach me not to be anxious about my life. Take my burdens from
me and make me free – free to seek you first, knowing
that all I need You will provide. Amen.*
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.