I used to enjoy air travel. But, that was before 9/11, the recession, and losing Advantage Gold status. I adapted all the changes until recently. Without complaint, I peeled off coats, jewelry and shoes and stood with arms raised over my head for security checks. I complied with packing liquids and mascara separately. I bought smaller luggage to fit in limited overhead bin space. But, my last trace of comfort flew out the window when my favorite airlines reserved aisle seats only for frequent flyers, which I no longer was.
So, last Monday, I looked forward to a meeting in Boston but not the process of traveling there. Even though I made a reservation three months ago, I was stuck in a window seat. I arrived early at the airport, hoping to trade for an available aisle seat.
The agent’s nails clicked across her keyboard. After what sounded like enough keystrokes to write the first chapter of a novel, she looked up and said, “Nope. Flight’s full. Next.”
Resigned to my low priority status, I prayed anyway. “Lord, sorry to bother You with a little thing, but would You make an aisle seat available? If not, then help me enjoy the flight despite being cramped with no leg room for the next 3 1/2 hours. Amen.”
The agent called me for boarding, “Group 2,” (which is really Group 7 after Pre-boarders, First Class, Priority Access, Platinum status, Gold status, and Group 1). I shuffled to my seat, 22A and hoisted my 4-days worth of clothes, toiletries, and conference materials into the overhead bin. I climbed over the lady already sitting in my coveted aisle seat. A sumo wrestler-like gentleman stuffed himself into the chair between us.
Once the flight filled, a stewardess approached the woman in the end seat. “Mrs. Evans, we can move you to first class after all. Here’s your new ticket.”
Hey, my aisle seat’s available! I turned to my wrestler compadre and asked, “Would you like my window seat and I’ll sit on the aisle?”
“Sure,” he answered, “if you don’t think anyone else is boarding.” We gave it 30 seconds before we shifted seats. I fastened the seat belt, and praised the Lord for …
A woman passenger stopped beside my armrest. “I think that’s my seat.”
With a pasted-on a smile, I rose to move and sheepishly explained why I sat there in the first place. The woman said, “I don’t mind sitting in the middle if you prefer the aisle.”
Prayer answered. But why? I prayed selfishly when I asked for the aisle seat. But God had a bigger purpose in mind. The woman needed to talk … all the way to Boston. And I needed to listen. First about her new IPad. But then about the daughter she lost, her anxiety about a son seeking work after graduation, and her impending empty nest after a second son’s senior year.
Although some place us in low priority status, we’re top priority with God, who cares for us. He may not answer prayers exactly as we want or expect, but He works ALL things to the good of those who trust Him. And ask. He takes care of the rest.
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7, NIV)