Close Flying

I was on a small plane from St. John’s to Gander in Newfoundland. The flight was only about an hour and there was only one row on either side of the plane. I always tell people to be 10% more friendly which, when you’re an introvert, is only easy when you are literally rubbing shoulders with a stranger. Ten minutes into the fight, I decided I would start. The man next to me was on the other side of middle age, with torn plaid dirty jeans and a worn hat.
“So, why are you heading up to Gander?” I ventured.
“I live in Gander, but work in the Alberta oil fields. I only get home once a month.”
His reflections were bitter sweet as he told me that he had to provide for his family and that he hated to be away from them. So I plugged him with questions about the oil fields, his family and travel. Before long, the woman behind his seat joined in the conversation.
She was a similar age, but wearing a white pantsuit, styled hair and a purchased tan. I asked her the same question. She was a wife of an “important” physician. Her job was to travel the world and review five start hotels̶—these were two very different people.
I tried to be an equal opportunity conversationalist and asked questions about the hotels, and how she got this “tough job.” Almost 30 minutes later during another lull in the conversation, the woman reciprocated.
“So why are you flying to Gander?” She asked.
Ok, this is what I had been praying for—an opportunity to share the hope of Jesus that is in me!
“I am speaking to some Salvation Army teenagers.”
She zeroed in very business-like and asked, “So give me the core of your message in one sentence.”
That caught me off guard. I knew this was an opportunity to share my faith, but didn’t expect it to be that blatant! I train others to give a response in one sentence. Wow, what was my sentence again?
“People can’t make it in life without hope; hope is found in Jesus.”
I know that was technically two sentences, but it got the idea across. For the next fifteen minutes the three of us talked about faith, sick spouses and old Sunday school experiences. The flight ended in a prayer for the oil worker’s wife who has inoperable brain cancer.
I never thought I would have to articulate my faith in one sentence, having one minute to think about it. There is so much to this love relationship with Jesus. It is difficult to put into words, let alone one sentence, maybe because he is not a slogan. He is a person, who is just plain wonderful to know. Father, thank you for using “10% more friendly” moments; give me more opportunities to explain the inexplicable.

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