Last Thursday night -- ALL night -- I saw my people behave in ways that made me glad to be one of them.
Before 13-year-old granddaughter Megan and I ever got off our plane taking us from Phoenix, AZ to Chicago, IL's Midway airport, I was already getting text messages about our next flight to Birmingham being delayed. It was only about a 30-minute delay at that point, so we dutifully proceeded to our assigned gate to find out more.
After settling in at our gate, I began to notice the familiar nuances and lilts of Southern speakers with pronounced drawls and accents, and even more, I heard phrases that caught my attention -- "church plants," "need a youth guy immediately," "preaching through the book of Romans," contemporary service," etc.
Me: So are you both preachers?
Them: Yes, ma'am. (I love it when young whippersnappers say "Ma'am").
Me: What kind? (Although I was already pretty sure of the answer).
Them: Southern Baptist. We're on our way back from the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Anaheim.
From that point on, we could truly communicate. After all, I speak FLUENT Southern Baptist. :)
Then, I began to scan the crowd a little more closely, and sure enough, I spotted a face I recognized. Jennifer Rash, editor of The Alabama Baptist. I have written for TAB for several years but had yet to meet her in person. I made my way over to introduce myself and was soon greeted by the whole staff of TAB, several of which I work with closely.
The clock continued to tick past our announced boarding time, but somehow, things felt better. These were my kind of people, and we were all in this together.
Finally, we were given the instructions to board according to our numbers. Megan and I found our seats, and I was in the middle. A very nice young man sat on the aisle seat, and I soon learned that he serves at the State Board of Missions in the office of College Campus Ministries. Everything was still good.
We pushed back from the gate, but then sat . . . and sat . . . and sat . . . . even after we'd heard the words, "We've been cleared for take-off." Before much longer, one of the pilots got off the plane, and I knew this couldn't be good. We were told that the pilot had "timed out" before we could get in the air, and the search was on for another pilot who could get us on to Birmingham. We sat some more. To the flight attendants' credit, they told us we could get up to use the restroom, and they were throwing snacks at us liberally. :) Before long, we were told we needed to get off the plane, because the flight had been canceled.
As I got off, I laughingly said to the flight attendant, "It's a good thing this plane is full of Baptist preachers." She agreed. We both knew that in other cases, things might have been ugly.
But now what? It's after 11:00 p.m. in Chicago by this time.
That first announcement was followed soon by these words --
"There are no hotel rooms. Your flight has been changed to 7:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. We can't give you your luggage. It will be transferred from the plane you just got off of to the 7 a.m. plane. In a few days, you'll receive a voucher in your email for $300."
The implied message was: "Make yourself comfortable, somehow, and we'll see you in about 7 or 8 hours."
Get this picture.
All the shops and eateries are closed for the night.
It's chilly. You don't have a blanket or a pillow. The floor is hard. Flights keep landing until 2:30 a.m., so it's noisy. An automated voice comes on about every 10-15 seconds saying, "Caution. This moving walkway is ending." You have hours ahead of you.
To Megan's credit, she found a spot on the floor, somehow got into a sleeping position, put in her noise-canceling earbuds, and fell asleep. But, I had 2 problems. 1) My body rebels against hard floors, and 2) I was responsible for this child and felt I should "keep watch."
My fellow passengers found themselves some quiet spots. Many worked on sermons or articles for the Baptist newspaper. Some chatted with friends or caught up with emails. Some tried to doze. Others took laps on the concourse and kept smiles on their faces. It was actually pretty remarkable. There were no loud, angry words. No one got up a petition. No one threatened to sue the airline. We just made the best of a truly miserable situation. And you should have seen how quickly a line formed when Dunkin Donuts finally opened about 5:30 a.m. :)
Wouldn't the world be a better place if everyone behaved well? If everyone took the bad situations they found themselves in and dealt with them in mature, reasonable ways? If everyone chose to "make lemonade" rather than get even, get mad, or try to get revenge?
Don't get me wrong. We were exhausted. When we finally boarded the plane the next morning, every single person was sound asleep before we took off and didn't move until we were landing. If I had to be stranded at an airport, I'm sure glad I was with a bunch of Baptists. :)
Titus 3:1-2 -- "Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone."
1 John 2:6 -- "Whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus did."
Philippians 2:5 -- "In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus"