This past week I took a flight from London to Atlanta. I’m in the States for six weeks taking speaking engagements in various churches. I’m also happily looking forward to working two days a week with the veterinary staff at Jones Animal Clinic in Brundidge, AL. Being with them is always a tremendous joy.
When the airplane took off in London, all the passengers were seated and ready to go. Well, I should say, all the passengers except one. A young man stood up as the plane literally left the runway. It was difficult for him to stand as the plane was ascending and had not leveled. A steward called out for the man to “return to your seat, sir!” The man seemingly didn’t hear. He opened the top luggage bin and proceeded to remove his bag. At this point the steward was at the passenger’s side demanding that he sit down. Thankfully the man did as he was told.
Throughout the rest of the flight, I could not help but be aware of this particular passenger. He was constantly doing the wrong thing. When the seat belt sign came on because of turbulence, he chose that moment to get up and proceed to the bathroom. The steward told him to get back to his seat. During another instance of turbulence, the steward was walking up the aisle making certain the passengers had their seat belts buckled. It was no surprise that the passenger in question was not wearing his seat belt. The steward stood there while he buckled up. During preparation for landing we were instructed to bring our seats to an upright position. Of course, this passenger had his seat fully back. The steward had to tell him to bring his seat forward.
I couldn’t help but think to myself, what a pain this passenger was to both the staff and his fellow passengers. Even so, I was impressed with the steward who constantly dealt with the unruly man. He was always gentle, even when he had to be stern.
Immediately I was struck with the comparison of how we react to God’s instructions for our lives. He gives us directions to follow that will bless us if we follow them. If we don’t obey them, Father God in His love for us, gently but sternly, guides us back to the right path. If we get back on the path, all is well; if we do not, there are consequences. God will discipline His children because He so wants the best for them.
If we are all honest with ourselves, we have to admit there have been times in our lives, spiritually speaking, when we’ve ignored the instructions of our Father, and proceeded to do things our way. Spiritually speaking, sometimes we are each one, the unruly passenger.
How thankful we can be that Father never gives up on us no matter our mistakes or rebellious attitudes to His directions. He loves us in spite of ourselves, and remember: “God’s discipline is always right and good for us because it means we will share in His holiness.” Hebrews 12:10b