An Unwanted Flight Plan

Some years ago now, my flight from Central Asia had just landed in Istanbul. I had been up since 3:00am. It was now midday. My next flight was scheduled to leave in just an hour and a half, but no, that flight had been delayed. I would now have to wait a further five hours! Many of you will know the aggravations that come with postponed flights.

I wandered around and saw a welcome sight; a coffee cafe with enticing aroma filling the air. I ordered a cup and walked over to a table. The cafe didn’t have the sit down with chairs tables, but the stand as you drink kind. I sipped the comforting brew, watching other travelers hurriedly to-ing and fro-ing. Several tables away, another woman stood alone with her own cup of warming coffee.

As I watched her it seemed to me that she had about her, not just a tiredness of being a weary traveler, but a sadness. I began to pray for her. I have made this a practice over the years, praying for strangers I see, asking God that if they know Him, would He bless them today with a sweet sense of His presence, and if they do not, would He send someone or something across their path to reveal to them the Good News of how Jesus loves them.

As I prayed for this woman, a growing sense of urgency and caring for her grew within my spirit. Then it happened. God was speaking to me, telling me to go over and talk to this woman. My heart was pounding hard. This physical occurrence often happens when God is leading me to do something. I uttered a mild protest, saying to the Lord that she might not speak English. My objection did not work; instead, a growing imperativeness made me pick up my mug and let my feet take me to the woman’s table. “Excuse me,” I heard myself say, “but you look so sad. Are you okay?” She looked up, surprised, as her eyes glistened in tears ready to spill over.

For the next three or four minutes I told her how knowing Jesus as my personal Savior had changed my life for the good. I told her that not only did it promise forgiveness of any sin I ever committed and eternity with Him after death, where no sorrow or tears existed, but that it promised help for the here and now, giving me hope, inner peace and joy, even in difficult moments. The woman was so ready to receive Jesus. I prayed and she repeated after me. Her words were sincere and full of longing. When we said “Amen,” she looked up a transformed woman. I could see joy and hope in her eyes. I told her to get hold of a Bible and find other Christians to help her, for this is how she would grow strong in her faith. She thanked me. We hugged. She then hurriedly left as her flight was called for boarding.

I’ve never seen that woman since, nor did I even get her name or know where she lives, but what a joyful reunion we will have in heaven. I continued sipping my mug of coffee, a refreshed spirit within me as I said “thank you,” to the Lord for allowing my flight to be delayed. The remaining hours were pleasant as I rested in inner peace.

God may allow many unpleasant situations in our lives, some merely annoying while others may be fearful and full of inner pain. Even so, “all things” do truly “work together for good,” as we are reminded in Romans 8:28. The Apostle Paul knew that no circumstance was ever a waste of time in God’s economy of minutes and hours. Paul’s understanding of that is why he could write in Colossians 4:3, “Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about His mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains.” Imagine that! Falsely arrested, but it was an opportunity Paul would not otherwise have to both, share the wonderful love of Jesus with others, and to grow in personal intimacy of relationship with Him. We learn in Scriptures elsewhere, that because of his imprisonment, Paul was used of God to lead even some of Caesar’s own household to the saving grace of God. His joy in his dismal circumstance had to be an infectious encouragement to others.

When our every minute belongs to God, then even our most difficult situations count for something good on the timeline of eternity. May you be blessed as you give your every minute to Him — the good, the difficult, the unwanted minutes. In Him not one moment counts for nothing.

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