As I begin writing this, I am sitting in the airport in Panama City, FL. In fact, I have been sitting here for nearly 6 hours. Needless to say, it has been quite a long evening.
My family and I (wife, kids, parents, and sisters and their families) have spent this past week on vacation in Destin, FL. In hopes of saving my one last personal day of the year at work, I chose to fly home on Thursday night and be at work on Friday while the rest of my family stayed in Florida to drive home to Tennessee on Saturday. I arrived at the airport at 5:45pm for a flight that was supposed to leave two hours later. It was supposed to arrive in Nashville, TN, at 8:55pm and about an hour later I would be home.
It’s currently 11:25pm and we’re still sitting at the airport in Florida.
If you could pick one situation to never have to be in, this one would probably fall at the top of most people’s list. We were even on the plane, at the runway, ready to take off when we had to return to the gate and de-board. There are around 100 passengers still sitting in the terminal with me. You would imagine the atmosphere would be intense. You would imagine a lot of angry passengers yelling at the airline employees. You would imagine a lot of griping.
Here’s what is going on in the terminal. There are kids gathered around iPads watching Netflix. There are groups of young adults who just met for the first time, sitting in a circle on the floor laughing. There are parents letting their toddlers run around giving high fives to everyone, which everyone happily returns. The airline employees are playing trivia games over the intercom and giving out free vouchers as prizes. The airport’s only restaurant was re-opened so passengers could watch the end of the pre-season NFL game as they eat a bite.
You know what I didn’t hear? Not one gripe. Not a single coarse word toward an airline employee. Not one parent fussing at a kid for misbehaving. To my surprise, it has actually been a rather pleasant environment.
After strolling up and down the aisle of the terminal for about two hours, it finally dawned on me why no one was upset, but was instead very patient. Everyone knew the danger of trying to force the plane to take off when it was not ready. No one wants to take the chance of getting in the air with an airplane that has a Check Engine light on. We will all happily wait however long it takes to make sure it is safe to travel.
You want to know what also occurred to me as I was strolling the aisles of the terminal? I wish there was some way I could make all these same people understand just how dangerous it is to go through life and face eternity without living a life obedient to Christ. As dangerous as it is to get on an airplane that is not working, it is so much more dangerous to face our Creator without being prepared. Yet many people don’t take that danger seriously. They get offended and defensive if you try to warn them of their spiritual condition.
The reason people want to avoid a faulty plane is because they know from history what the outcome could be. If they had never heard of the possible dangers of air travel, that ignorance would have likely resulted in a very different terminal than what I experienced. Instead of understanding, it would have been stress and irritation. If people don’t hear about the joy that comes from being a Christian and the punishment that awaits those who aren’t, then how can we expect them to be anything besides ignorant. We can’t question why people won’t come to Christ and be more understanding if we aren’t willing to teach them the history of God’s punishment and wrath, as well as the history of God’s love and desire for obedience.
Find opportunities to share the love of God with someone around you. His or her soul depends on it.
Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead. [Acts 17:30-31]
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? [Romans 10:14]
(As I finish writing this, it’s now 12:15AM, and we are sitting on the tarmac ready to leave for Nashville. We won’t have to spend the night in the airport!)