Dateline Hartford – It is Sunday, two days after Thanksgiving. I am sitting in the airport watching the snow and ice fall and feeling completely stressed about whether or not our flight will leave, on time or at all. I am overly stuffed from a Thanksgiving weekend of feasting, or maybe grazing is a better term. Saturday, yesterday we ate out because we were “tired” Thanksgiving leftovers. Pizza for lunch, Thai for supper; hard to beat that. Thai food always helps me cope when I’m feeling sorry for myself, like when Alabama loses to Auburn.
My thoughts drift to tomorrow’s work. What if I can’t make it to the office? Who do I need to call? Where will we stay if we can’t get out of here? I looked up and notice a hotel attached to the airport. I quickly phoned and they have rooms; EXPENSIVE, but it’s an emergency, I rationalize. Then I begin to think what if we get off the ground here, but miss our connecting flight in Atlanta? What time does the Atlanta airport close? I don’t really want to rent a car and drive all the way to the Shoals. But, it is an option – – – we have options, lots of them.
Anyway, that was my stream of conscientiousness when the sharp little “DING” announced a text message. It was Jean Remy from Haiti. Jean is the young man you have read about in these pages who gets on that motorcycle to go preach or teach, literally risking his neck for the Gospel. He asked about my day and how worship had been that morning. I explained the weather situation (what is snow) that we had worshipped at home because of the weather and my travel frustrations.
He asked, “Are you safe, brother?” That question snapped me out of my malaise and I realized I hadn’t even been polite. I assured him I was in no danger and tried to recover quickly by asking how he was doing. “Sad” was his reply. I asked why and he told me. The first convert to be added to the new church, Bienne Place, came forward Sunday morning and to ask for prayers. He wanted God’s help because he hadn’t eaten in 5 days and had nowhere to turn. After I caught my breath and mentally fell to my knees to beg for God’s forgiveness I emailed Jean Claubert and Evands who immediately put the wheels in motion to help.
But I was still there, stuck in that airport. The “wintery mix” was still falling. But, it didn’t seem to matter all that much anymore. I recognized that my “problems;” the source of my “anguish” were “1st world problems.” We were tired of one kind of food after a couple days of feasting; really!? He hadn’t eaten in five days. Upset over a football game? Trying to decide which option (flight, hotel, rental car) I would have to choose. Seriously?
“Are you safe brother,” he asked. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “Oh what a wretched man am I!” Here, on the other end of my phone, was a young man who has no job to worry about; he would love a job, any job. There are none. I had been focused on myself and my “options” while talking to a young man who has never flown or stayed in a hotel or had Thai food; ever! He might not even know what a pizza is. I was worried about flying or driving while this young man’s options are not just limited but really non-existent. He is focused on just two things, keeping body and soul together and proclaiming the Gospel.
How small of me, how petty I am, how blessed is every one of my days. I was reminded of Romans 8:28 “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son – – -.” Oh, Father I have such a long way to go.
It may seem that what we are doing is small, inconsequential, and far off, but it isn’t. Real people with real problems depend on us to do something, anything. When our frustration meters are about to peg, we need to stop and ask ourselves, is this an inconvenience or a real problem. We need to focus on the real problems in the world; to be difference makers in real substantive ways.
I pray, oh God please help me to do that and more today; just today. I’ll ask again tomorrow.