Funny thing happened on the way over to Honolulu…. The first leg was the “we’ve-done-it-dozens-of-times-quick” Huntsville to Houston flight last Monday. But something happened that’s never happened to us on this route before. The plane ran into huge headwinds that just kept pushing us back, delaying the time we were flying over Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas. In fact, we were delayed significantly enough to put us well out of reach of any flights that would get us on to Honolulu that day. We spent the night in the Houston airport.
The trip was a total reroute, omitting our original stop in LA, and sending us on a direct flight from Houston to Honolulu early on Tuesday morning. We boarded, rather tired from the wear, and, as we suspected, were seated on the very back (arrrgh) middle seats in a huge jet full of expectant Hawaiian vacationers. Could be a long eight-and-a half hours. Settling in, we noticed that the man beside us apparently did not want to sit beside us and was trying to trade seats with the 20-ish pony-tailed girl in front of us, which she obligingly did.
Then the eight hours sped by at a literal jet speed!
“Hey,” she said. “Where are you from?”
“Alabama. How ‘bout you?”
“Alabama, too…A tiny little place called Crossville.”
“Oh, we’re from Huntsville. We know where Crossville is. And are you going on a vacation?”
“I am going on a Valentine’s trip to see my husband who is stationed at Pearl Harbor.”
“How fun! Are you surprising him or does he know you are coming?”
“Oh…he knows and he is planning all sorts of fun stuff. And are you on vacation?”
“Not exactly. We are going to take a few days off at the end, but first we are going to be doing a marriage and family seminar at the Honolulu church of Christ.”
All of this followed by a few minutes of wonderful small talk and then the great Bible study kick-off question we all dream of from potential Christians:
“Well, could you help me understand the difference in the various churches, particularly Catholic and Baptist and the Church of Christ?”
This query was naturally followed by several hours of intense discussion about the Bible, New Testament Christianity and what it means to be in Christ. In the interim periods, a different discussion about issues in her marriage and how God’s Word can resolve conflicts and bring joy to relationships kept the conversation going. All of this was followed by this statement by my new friend:
“Well I do not think I am in that circle of God’s grace. I do not think he hears my prayers. This makes me want to be baptized.”
This very sweet and open little wife left with a lot to think about. I do not think she will be spending her entire time on this island without discussing this with her seaman. She has already texted me once while we have been here and are connecting on facebook. She has promised that she will visit our West Huntsville services. We’ve exchanged contact information and she has invited me to stop for lunch at the restaurant where she works which happens to be located on a very familiar trek for me…right on the way to visit my dad.
Now, what’s the point? There are two. First, we were on the wrong plane and she was in the wrong seat. But there we were, all together now for almost nine hours. She was struggling with some marriage issues and we were on our way to teach His will on that very subject. All a coincidence? Well, perhaps. But I believe God providentially provided some answers for a searching heart. That’s the point. If we are prayerful for opportunities and knowledgeable enough and bold enough to take them (that’s where I struggle!), then I believe He is the great Connector. He is good to provide teachers to those who need them and searchers for those who will teach (“provide” being the root of “providence”).
Secondly, will you pray with me for her continued responsiveness to the gospel she has learned? Will you pray that there will be providential circumstances in her life that will allow her, even prompt her, to see her urgent need to obey? Will you pray for her conversations with her husband and her safety in travel? Pray for me and other Christians who may impact her, too… that we will find opportunities and have wisdom to lead her all the way to spiritual safety.
And, my sweet new friend, if you should find and read this, know that lots of people, women who do not yet know you, are praying that they will become your sisters through Him Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to His power that is at work within us (Ephesians 3:20).