I returned home from Dallas today. I was supposed to leave about 1:15 this afternoon, but we were advised that the plane had mechanical problems and the flight would be delayed, perhaps as long as an hour. Well before the time had expired, agents notified those of us in the gate area that the aircraft was being pulled from service; and we would be directed to another gate for our flight to Indianapolis.
At 2:00 pm we finally started to board – I had been watching the weather and was aware that storms were heading into the area shortly and since I know spring weather can be fierce in Dallas, I was anxious to get going. We rolled out from the gate and proceeded to the runway where the flight attendants were told to prepare for take-off. Then, as suddenly as we had started, we pulled off to the side of the tarmac and waited, and waited, and waited some more….
The pilot finally came on and told us that storms had entered the area and half the airport, the side we were on, was starting to get severe weather while planes were still being allowed to take-off and land across the airport on the other runway. The tower was deciding whether they were going to let us take off, or make us taxi across to the other side and try to beat the weather before DFW got socked in. He then told us that the plane we were supposed to have been on had been “broken” by turbulence over Dallas on the inbound flight and that the damage had been significant enough that it would take quite a while to be repaired. Not exactly the type of thing you want to hear when you are on the runway and the storms are rolling in.
Anyway, the pilot cut his announcement short because the tower cleared us for immediate take-off. We were in the air in less than a minute, with the pilot coming on and letting us know that we were in for a bumpy ride – he expected that we would have turbulence even above the clouds all the way north and west of Branson, Missouri. I had been upgraded to first class so at least I was near the front of the plane.
It wasn’t more than several minutes before the turbulence really began. It wasn’t like the plane was falling out of the sky, but there were constant small bumps and it was difficult, but not impossible, for the flight attendants to serve the passengers. The bumps were relentless and suddenly, I started to think of a funny story from my childhood.
When I was growing up, we usually drove when we went on vacation. Dad wasn’t overly successful and so it was much cheaper for us to drive. We generally stayed in some of the least expensive motels Dad could find. Cleanliness was important, especially for Mom, but believe me, we didn’t have many frills. But it seems that we always had rooms that had “magic fingers” on the bed.
For those of you too young to remember this, motels in the fifties and sixties used to have a coin box on the nightstand next to the bed. When you inserted a quarter, the bed started to vibrate and Dad loved this after a long day behind the wheel of the family car. Now Mom always got motion sick, so she wasn’t a fan. Doug and I, long before Ken was even born, would sleep in one double bed while Dad and Mom were in the other one. Invariably, Dad’s back would be sore and he would start sticking quarters in the slot and the bed would start shaking. Mom hated it, and I can still remember her yelling at my Dad as he laid there watching late night television, smoking a Pall Mall cigarette in his boxer shorts and tee shirt as “magic fingers” relaxed his aching muscles. More than once, Doug and I had to make room for Mom because she was getting nauseous.
One time, we went to Niagara Falls and the only room available was $40 a night. It was a beautiful room, but MUCH more than Dad had ever spent on a room in his life. All five of us, including Ken, our youngest brother, were there together. And it was the only time in my entire childhood I remember there was no vibrating bed in the room. Dad was crushed. Not only that, but he spent the whole night laying awake because he didn’t know how he was going to pay for the room – didn’t sleep a wink. My poor father………
So as we were going through all the turbulence today, memories of all those childhood experiences flooded my brain as I was bouncing around in my seat. The guy next to me must have thought that I was a nut case, smiling from Dallas all the way to Branson, Missouri. But such fond memories of Mom, Dad and those cheap family vacations.
The verse for tonight is about the fingers, or more specifically, the hands of God. Now to be sure, we don’t know if God even has fingers or hands – we call that an anthropomorphism – assigning human traits to non-humans – that’s probably more than you want to know, but it helps us identify with God.
In Psalm 139:5-6, we are told, “You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” If you noticed, the psalmist refers to three hands – behind, before, and on us. God does indeed hem us in with His “magic” fingers. My encouragement this evening to to make sure that you know God has you covered, whether it looks like a human hand or not. And my prayer is that you might extend a hand to others who may not know the saving grace of an eternal relationship with Jesus Christ. Have a great day in the Lord. Grace and peace,