One of the great parts of travel is getting to meet new and interesting people. Over the last twenty years of travel I have flown across the country and around the globe, and without a doubt, I have met some fascinating people in my travels, especially on long flights.
Airplanes are really conducive to these kinds of encounters because, let’s face it, you’re trapped in a steel tube at 35,000 feet. You’ve got no place to hide! After all, you can only stay in one of those closet bathrooms for so long before a flight attendant breaks down the door to make sure you’re still alive.
Not too long ago I was on a flight from the east coast, heading back to my home in southern California. I was traveling with my cameraman—and long time friend—Jeremiah, and we had tickets that included a window and middle seat.
Before I go on, you should know that I have flown THOUSANDS of times as a performer and speaker. I’ve seen some crazy things and met some fantastic (and crazy!) people. But honestly, it’s been a long time since I’ve been shocked by something I’ve witnessed on a flight. That all changed on this flight.
As we settled in for the long flight home, a fellow passenger took the aisle seat and as he did, he proclaimed loudly, “I can’t wait to get to know you boys!”
He was a Texas man, full of excitement and stories. We shook his giant paws, gave him our names (our full names by request!) and shared stories with each other. He has lived quite an extraordinary life and he was eager to share it.
As the conversation turned, our seat-neighbor asked me what I did. When I told him I was a pastor, I experienced something that hadn’t happened during millions of air-miles before. This man turned with a serious expression, asked me and Jeremiah to put out our hands, face up, and declared, “I’m going to show you what kind of man I am!”
If I’m being totally honest here, I was very worried about what was going to happen next.
He placed his giant hands over mine, essentially interlocking our fingers together, and then…he prayed! He didn’t just pray a stealthy, hushed, and whispered “amen,” he prayed loudly! He prayed God’s promises over us and our ministry and I’m fairly certain that even the Captain heard his prayers in the cockpit!
I really wasn’t quite sure what to do. I was holding hands—interlocked fingers!—with a total stranger, on a flight from DC to California, who felt compelled to pray.
After his prayer, we all sat back in our seats and hardly spoke to each other the rest of the flight. We landed and parted ways, and without a doubt, Jeremiah and I had an experience neither of us will soon forget!
Possible application illustration
This story reminds me of the movie, We Bought A Zoo that stars Matt Damon. There is a moment of decision in the movie, a moment when Matt and his family decide to make a crazy move and he says, “You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”
Our friend definitely had some insane courage: holding interlocking hands with a total stranger and loudly praying a blessing on him. And I wonder what kind of courage God wants you and me to display? I wonder how He is calling you to step out in faith, to trust Him, to give Him twenty seconds of your undivided attention and commitment, to see what He might do through you?
Maybe God is asking you to pray for a stranger on the plane, or maybe He is asking you to bake a meal for the neighbor you’ve never really met and cross the street to bless them. Maybe God wants you to stand up in your school, or maybe He wants you to use your financial resources to generously meet someone else’s need. Whatever it is, I know this to be true: twenty seconds of insane courage for God can make a difference for eternity.
What is God challenging you to do?