Wailing In the Airport
I’ve heard people say, “I hate to fly!” I don’t hate to fly. I mean, how often do you get the chance to spend nine hours squeezed into a tiny space with your knees under you chin and the person in front of you lying back in your lap? (If he can get to it)
How often do you get to eat strange food like they serve you on airplanes? It’s mysterious and mystery is exciting, isn’t it? Flying is great. It’s airports that get on my nerves.
The other day we were coming back from preaching in France. Proud of ourselves, we were, because we had gotten to the airport in plenty of time. Except … except there was a problem with some sort of baggage machine and the waiting line to check in resembled the lines of victims waiting to go up the Eiffel Tower.
Then we all had to move away quickly because some naïve soul had left his bag unattended and the police herded everyone to safety in case the man’s underway exploded.
So, as I finally stood in line again, a kid who looked to be about two was whining in a voice that would have irritated a saint. Ai, yi, yi! When I’m hot, tired and irritated, a whiny kid sends me up the wall. If I had howled like that around my mother, I wouldn’t be here to tell you the story.
You know what, though? I came to the conclusion that he was verbalizing what a lot of us felt as we experienced airport stress. It’s just that it’s not socially acceptable to throw tantrums, whine, etc in public when you’re over 20.
I was tempted to whine myself.
Feel Like Whining?
Life often resembles a crowded airport. Bills, kids, husbands, wives (–No scratch that. Wives could never make you feel that way–), sickness, bosses, friends, trials, injustices, etc. all play on our nerves like fingernails screeching across a blackboard.
We can add our own failures, faults, sins, insecurities, shortcomings, inability, and nerves to the mix. Often we’re smiling on the outside and bawling on the inside. Helps me understand the crying kid better.
Doesn’t make me like to listen to him anymore, though.
One of the things that has really challenged me lately is the joy that people like Paul possessed. He’s constantly telling people to be joyful and thankful to God. But, if anyone had a right to sniffle and cry, it was him. He had been thrown into prison, beaten, shipwrecked and who knows what else?
Yet, his advice to us is: “Finally, my dear friends, be glad that you belong to the Lord. It doesn’t bother me to write the same things to you that I have written before. In fact, it is for your own good.”
“Okay, that’s all right for Paul” you say, “but he was in another class. He’s one of those guys they paint with a halo over his head. I just can’t react like that.”
It’s not easy to have the right attitude. It’s not easy to rejoice when life won’t behave itself. It’s easier to be thankful to God when I get an income tax refund than when I have to hand over some hard-earned cash to Uncle Sam.
It didn’t seem to change Paul’s outlook much. When things went bad he seemed to be able to turn his “attitude ship” around and get back to praising and thanking the Lord Jesus.
I don’t claim to have it all figured out, but I know a part of the reason. Paul looked at the whole picture and not just the situation in front of him. He had lost position, money, a promising future in his religion, and the esteem of the leaders of his people.
If they had had a Post Office, Paul’s picture would have hanging in it: “Wanted Dead Or Alive.”
But, he decided that knowing Jesus, obeying Him, and having the promise of eternal life weighed more than all he had given up.
“And doubtless I even count all things as loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ and be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
“That I may know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death …” (Philippians 3, JUB)
The one who praises, really praises, the one who thanks God, really thanks God, sees the big picture. The one who only sees what’s in front of his nose just howls.
Are you a thankful, God-praiser or a howler? It’s a choice, you know.
Gratitude is a gift — one we all have, but don’t have to use. It’s a choice. Jeff Goins