Praying on an airplane

Friday I took an early morning flight home.  I had been in Nashville for a few days to train some new field coordinators for Imagine No Malaria and get refreshed myself on the latest info.

But that flight came early. My cab arrived at 4. I was done with socializing around 1. So… yeah, not enough sleep.

I got on my flight and crashed. I slept the whole way to Dallas and then shuffled my way through the airport.  I got to my gate and they started loading and I sat down and closed my eyes.

But behind me, this lady started talking to her seatmate. What the book/movie Fight Club calls a “single-serving friend”. In between dozes I heard them talking about work, and then family, and then struggles. As we started our descent into CR, she suddenly asked if she could pray with him. And they did, loud enough for others to hear, powerful enough that I was touched… as if the prayer were for me, too… and I had to whisper,  “amen.”

She shared her own stresses and they commiserated over lack of sleep… which was when the impact of her ministry really hit home for me.

This woman was just as tired as I was. But instead of cocooning herself on the side of the plane with only one seat (yeah, just one), like I did,  she saw every day, every plane ride, every conversation,  every single interaction as a place where God might use her. It is what we talk about often… and yet sometimes find it so hard to practice.  I found myself wondering how many opportunities for ministry I had missed, because I wasn’t looking.

I was so struck, that I found a way to walk off the plane and to baggage claim with her. And I told her I thought she was doing a really amazing thing. She was challenging me to think about how I live my faith everyday. I told her that what she just did is how we should all be living as disciples of Jesus Christ.

She shared her faith on a plane. Not by preaching, or apologizing, or through shouts or platitudes or tracts. But by listening and sharing… being in relationship with a “stranger” and then opening up the possibility of prayer. It was beautiful.

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