It’s an odd title for my post tonight – especially since I was headed out of town earlier this afternoon and I have just arrived in my room in the Adolphus Hotel in downtown Dallas. In fact, rather than only being here one day, I don’t return home until Tuesday. You see, this trip I am attending an annual Summit with the Dallas team and we are bringing in people from across the country to discuss their work assignments for the next year. Usually, I stay at the Renaissance Hotel, but this trip, we thought the team would appreciate being in the middle of the city, but it is raining and dreary and getting colder. So here in the Adolphus Hotel I sit…..
Although this is my last trip of the year, things are really busy back home. Now I really enjoy working down here, and I did get upgraded to first class, which is always nice, but it is tough to leave home on Sunday. Janet and I are so used to spending the day together that neither one of us really likes it when I have to travel.
I trust that you understand the dilemma – being apart from Janet, dreary weather, working like crazy; maybe even holding a little bit of a pity party for myself today. And, as is usually the case when I am feeling like this, God had something special in store for me. I never expected it, although I should have, because He never fails to put things in front of me that really give me great perspective on my own situation.
Today, it happened at the security checkpoint heading out of Indianapolis airport. After having my ticket and identification checked, I entered the security line for screening. I know the drill by now. Take off the shoes and belt, yank out the computers from the briefcase, empty your pockets of change, take off anything that has metal and make sure that any coat, scarf, hat or gloves are also put in a bin. Thankfully, there wasn’t a long line, but I could just tell that I was headed to one of those full body scanners. That doesn’t bother me, but it is inconvenient. Because everything must come out of your pockets – handkerchief, wallet, folding money and anything else you have.
Anyway, behind me was a serviceman in uniform. Army fatigues, boots, backpack, the whole nine yards. He was just standing there behind me patiently waiting his turn. He didn’t even begin to remove his belt or shoes and I was just waiting to see what was going to happen. Sure enough, the TSA agent let him know that everything had to come off. The military man, Jonathan according to his id patch, started to oblige the agent. Then, each time he took something off, Jonathan waited until the agent told him what to take off next. In a way, it was kind of comical. I could tell the agent was wondering what planet this guy was from. I was about to intervene and offer my assistance, but sometimes those TSA agents don’t have much tolerance for outside help. So I just stood there and watched.
In fact, while I was directed to the full body scanner, Jonathan went through the normal metal detector and actually beat me through security. My stuff was still coming through the belt scanner and it was apparent that his stuff was next. I apologized for taking so long to get my things out of the way. Jonathan told me there was no reason to be sorry – especially on a Sunday. It was the Lord’s day and don’t worry about it. He wasn’t in any rush and he encouraged me to take my time. We started a short dialogue and he let me know that he was headed to Dallas – on the same flight I was on.
Anyway, it turns out that he had been back in the US less than an hour…… That’s right, he had just landed in Indianapolis from overseas and was headed to his next stop in Dallas – the hub for people who live west of the Mississippi River. He has served the US, make that you and me, in Iraq for eight years – that’s right – eight years! No wonder he didn’t know how to go through security – things have changed quite a bit since he headed out and he’s never had to do the things we now do to ensure safe travel.
Suddenly, it put my situation in an entirely different light. He was so thankful to be home that nothing else mattered. He was just exceedingly grateful that God had delivered him safely through his tours in Iraq and had been faithful in bringing him back home – alive and uninjured. My little pity party started to look pretty silly.
Well, my mood has improved since then. The verse tonight reminds me of the people throughout history who have gone to foreign lands to live for extended periods of time – because they were called to. From Heb. 11:8-9, “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country.”
My encouragement tonight is to let you know that there is always somebody out there who has it worse than you and I do. It’s a matter of perspective and sometimes we get spoiled in our lives and start to take stuff for granted. My prayer is that we all will spend a little more time being grateful for the blessings God has given us. I, for one, am pleased to have work and to be able to provide for my family, even if it does mean a fair amount of travel. And, by the way, heading home Tuesday is suddenly just fine by me. To all our military people, thanks for your sacrifices. We have no idea what you have given up for us….. Grace and peace,