Andy Addis is lead pastor of Crosspoint Church in Hutchinson, KS.
I am attending a meeting this week in Atlanta… well, at least, I hope I am.
Right now I am sitting in Dallas, stranded with about 300 of my newest friends at the airport. We should have been to Atlanta about…. wait for it… one minute ago, but here we sit in the Lone Star state.
It started with the captain saying they couldn’t close the forward cargo door, and they were sending for a mechanic. I heard a joke a few rows up, something about getting a bigger hammer.
A nearby gaggle of passengers laughed.
But, the laughing faded into silence, which gave way to sighs, growing into murmurs, which eventually erupted in widespread contagious complaining… well, I can’t blame them too much.
We did sit on the runway for two hours. It was 106 degrees. People missed their connections. Information was scarce. The flight was oversold, no spare seats.
It wasn’t fun.
But, at the end of those two “faith-provoking” hours, they let us know that someone had finally gotten the door closed, and we were on our way… kinda. We taxied out to the runway, sat for a peculiar amount time before the captain came over the intercom one more time: “Folks, I hate to tell you this, but I’m getting an excessively high oil temp reading on one of our engines, and I am going to have to take us back to the gate.”
I can’t think of another way to say this, but… people lost their minds. Everybody tried booking another flight… nope, not going to happen. One guy ‘demanded’ information, from the poor lady at the counter who knew even less than we did.
And, the language was… well, flowery.
It was quite an uncomfortable episode, but honestly… a little entertaining (I know that’s just wrong, sorry).
My first thought personally was, “Hey, I’d rather be late and safe than on time and falling out the sky!” Just a thought.
In an unusual turn of behavior for me, I kept it together. I was glad I didn’t go into the mob mentality, start foaming at the mouth and biting heads off of random airline employees… besides, I don’t use that kind of language. It’s hard to be too mouthy when you usually end a sentence with, “Can I get an amen?”
I began to think that I had finally arrived! Spiritually mature, finally. You see, there’s that passage in Titus talking about older men where it says:
Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. –Titus 2:2 (ESV)
Sober-minded, self-controlled, dignified… yep, that’s me.
Except last week when I lost it when that GPS app stopped working. Or, when I threw a private fit because I had to say the same thing to the same person for the same reason for the thousandth time. Or, when I raged on the steering wheel after I got caught in rush hour traffic… by the grain elevator.
Hmmm… so, maybe I haven’t arrived.
Still, I think I do know why I was able to let all the trouble roll on during this airport fiasco. Over my years of ministry, I have started to learn to distinguish between real problems and first world problems.
When you have seen the absolute and prison-like devastation of poverty in a country like Haiti… When you have felt the cold and cruel grip of repression while serving in “Eastern Europe”… When you have first hand experienced with the isolation and persecution of a place in “Asia” where your beliefs are not only the minority, they are not even tolerated… then you begin to see things differently.
Worst case scenario here in the airport is that we all spend the night here… in a perfectly safe building… with climate control… restaurants… and wifi.
Sometimes we think we have problems, but what most of us suffer with are inconveniences. It would do us good every now and again to remember the things that make us mad, hostile, rude and miserable, are a privilege in most of the world. So, you’ve got problems, but most of them are first world problems.
Well, we should hear from the mechanics in about 10 minutes, and we’ll know our fate. Until then, I’ll just sit here typing on my Mac, eating my McDonald’s salad while I charge my phone… suffering for Jesus.
Pray for me…