Monday, July 21, 2008

A Boarding Pass, a Bible, and a Blessing

As we walked through the airport headed to our second flight, my daughter said, "Dad, how come my seat isn't with you guys?" She handed me the boarding passes and sure enough, three in one row and one off by itself, 21E. "No problem," I assured her, "I'll swap seats after we board. You sit with Mom. I'll sit in your seat." "Thanks, Dad." Like I really had a choice in the matter.

Anyway, as we boarded I found Rebecca's seat and I plopped down next to a guy about my age. He was sitting next to the window with his overhead light on, reading a book. I buckled up and settled in, looking back a few rows to make sure my family had found their seats. That's when I noticed that this man was trying to read a brown hardback Bible opened to Leviticus. I say he was trying to read because every minute or two he would pause and shake his head, struggling to make sense of what he was reading. I couldn't help but think of Phillip and the Ethiopian trying to make sense of scripture on their chariot ride. I waited a few moments not wanting to seem abrupt or pushy.

"Hey, uh, are you reading some Leviticus? That's a pretty tough book."

"Tell me about it. You know this stuff? I've been trying to read this all week. I decided last month that I would read the Bible and see what it was all about, but this is killing me. Like could this be any more repetitive?"

"Well, if you really want to make sense of the Bible, maybe I can help you."

"Really? This is my fourth flight this week, and you're the first person to say anything about me reading the Bible. Have you read this before?"

"Sure have. I'm a pastor, so I'm more familiar with it. I've learned some background that makes it easier to understand."

"You're a pastor? Yeah, that would be great. I need some help."

So began my conversation with my new friend, Jesse. As we talked about the Bible, his thoughts soon took a more personal turn. Jesse told me about some of the ugliness and hurt that he had experienced as a child. Soon his story segued to more recent times and his painful losses to death and divorce. Now he is a part-time father of three, 14, 13, and 10, and trying to do right by his children.

Jesse told me how just a few months before he had a strong sense that he needed to find a church and read the Bible and find out what faith was all about. He started attending a Four Square Gospel Church and his kids were going with him. He said the worship was so real and relevant and moving that sometimes the tears would flow and he couldn't help it. But this reading the Bible thing was tougher than he imagined.

So, for another hour or so, Jesse and I opened the Bible together and I walked him through a little background and helped him find a plan to read that would help open his heart instead of cloud his mind. He had lots of questions. I marked some special things for him, some scripture that might speak to his situation. I told Jesse how obvious it seemed to me that God was doing a wonderful new thing in his life, that it was God who put that spiritual hunger and desire in his heart, and that God would help him become the kind of man and the kind of dad that he wanted to be.

Jesse said thoughtfully, "You know, I believe that. And God sent me a pastor today."

"I guess He did."

After we landed I gave him my card and said, "This has my email on it. It comes straight to my desk. If you have any questions or anything you want to talk about, you just call or shoot me a line. I'll be glad to hear from you, and I'll help you anyway I can."

"Thanks, Drew. You know, I don't believe in coincidences. Thank you for helping me out. I won't forget you."

"God bless you, Jesse. I know He will."

On the way to the baggage claim, I caught up with my family. "Rebecca, did you have a good flight?"

"Yes, Daddy. Thanks for letting me have your seat."

"That's okay, Sweetie. I was in the right seat. I was right where I was supposed to be."

2 comments:

Shane Vander Hart said...

Awesome story Drew! It's great how God brought that all together!

Drew Hill said...

Thanks, Shane. It never fails to amaze me, just watching God work in His own unexpected way.