By Marleny R
I've been traveling quite a bit the last few months. Mission trip, vacation, work. Most recently it's been for work. With this comes airport lines, flight delays, people who take forever in the security line...all leaving you silently murmuring .." Amazing Grace..how sweet the sound.." Well, at least that's what I'd like to think! However, I don't always extend that grace..unfortunately. How quickly I turn it on and off.
Work trip= off
I have to constantly check myself. The reason I say this is because I caught myself with it "off" this morning. I'm checking my bag at La Guardia in NY and there are some people in front of me who are "inconveniencing me" by taking forever, blocking my path, and overall little concern that I have somewhere to be. (sarcasm has been inserted here)
My thought process is like this "This weekend was terrible. Ive been working non-stop since I got here and throughout the weekend and have to show up to work on Monday with a pile of things I missed while out of the office. I just want to go home...puleassseeee."
The lady who checked my bag noticed my frustration and made a rude comment. ouch. Negativity breeds negativity. Now, this type of thing would usually not bother me as it happened so fast , a split second that I had a frustrated, negative reaction. Within the next moment I look down at my silver bracelet. The one with the cross and John 3:16verse.
So, a little back story...Three years ago, I lived in NYC. I developed a very NY state of mind after a while, all about taking care of number one. Having little time for people..where smiling was an inconvenience and southern hospitality ..is just plain "weird." I became a New Yorker avoiding eye contact as I walked the busy streets, not stopping to look at the world around me, the people - God's people.
Oh, how things have changed! ..or have they? I look down at my bracelet and remember that I can't turn it on and off when it's convenient. I am a brand ambassador for Christ - no matter how tired, frustrated, stressed I may be. His people come first and my selfish desires, frustrations must be put to the side.
You see..you never know who is watching you and God is going to use you whenever He desires. Your heart shows its true colors in these situations. Christ extends grace to me daily..minute by minute, even during those milliseconds when I feel I deserve to "turn it off."
Now, this next part is Great....because when my heart is NOT in the right place - the Lord brings it back to a much better place....
I'm finally at the gate, pull out my laptop to catch up on emails. There is a girl behind me on her cell, and suddenly I hear the words "Guatemala, mission trip, and Antigua." Its rare to hear these words so randomly in New York..unexpected place, unexpected time. However, I am intrigued. I tap her on her shoulder and say "excuse me, I'm sorry for eavesdropping, but I overheard you say you are traveling to Guatemala?"
She began to tell me how upset she was because she had planned this mission trip with one of her friends. However, her friend had a mild seizure at 2 am this morning, was currently at the hospital and obviously had to skip out on the trip. The issue was that her friend had planned the trip and had all the information of where they were to go -- so, she was left with a plane ticket, 100 pounds of children's clothes to take to orphanages which she did not know where they were located. In addition, she had no plans for the next 10 days beyond Antigua as she was leaning on her friend for the details and logistics. hmm..interesting.
I began to tell her about my yearly mission trip to Guatemala and the village that I go to and the missionaries there. I told her that if she were interested I could connect her with them so that she could visit the village. She was ecstatic because that is exactly the sort of thing she had been wanting to do! We exchanged facebook info.
The great thing as I found is that she speaks Spanish & has also traveled quite a bit in her lifetime. Two VERY good things when you go to a third-world country with no set plans. Eased my immediate worry for this girl...Oh..but p.s. God always has a plan :)
We were called to begin boarding the plane and (surprise!) our seats were right next to each other. We continued to talk and she shared with me how much she enjoyed doing volunteer work and just recently started doing mission trips. She also told me that she stepped into a church for the first time two months ago, gave her life to Christ and hasn't been the same since..awesome.
Shortly after, we began to strike a conversation with the girl sitting next to me on my left. Grad student at Yale, studying ancient Christianity. Traveled all over the world and was most recently studying up on monks. Most of what she studied was so above my head that I was left with...."wow, very interesting" I had trouble deciphering parts of our conversation (I'm simple minded folk) and really understanding where exactly her faith was, so I just asked her.
She told me she was a "non-believer" hmm... interesting. "So..are you an atheist?" "Yep, I was raised Lutheran, but you know, it just wasn't for me.." However, she likes the study of religions from a historical perspective and she liked the philosphy of it all, she said.
To tell you the truth..atheist scare me. Not because they are scary people, but because usually they are so much smarter than me..:) They are very good at proving their arguments and many have dedicated countless hours proving this argument. If we're speaking battle of intellect, I will lose. If we are speaking matters of the heart...well, that's different. She was such a delight to talk to and so we engaged in a great conversation.
After a while, I lay my head down on my tray table. As I'm sitting there, the girl to my right who has just discovered Christ is reading "the Shack" while the "non-believer" on my left is reading up on ancient religion. All of a sudden, I imagined a tap on my shoulder (from God)..."excuse me, I don't mean to interrupt your thoughts, but you see...this was never about you. "
"oh, and p.s. I love you."