Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Set Up

Small acts reap big dividends!

We found that to be true yet again on our trip to Ohio this past week. I've already shared with you that airports are a favorite people-watching venue for me. From the cabbie at the curb to the final baggage handler by the exit, Frank and I spend our flight time alert for interesting individuals.

And we're seldom ever disappointed! You've seen them too.
  • The lady who needed a friend to say, "Um, I don't think you should wear that in public!"
  • The gentleman who needs someone to smooth down the "rooster comb" sticking up on the back of his head.
  • The young mother lugging a car seat, pushing a stroller, yelling at the five year old and corralling the three year old.
  • The kid with more tattoos than skin.
  • The elderly couple holding hands on the transport vehicle. Smile.
Frank has expressed through the years his regret for not being able to serve in the military. So he has become a self-appointed military appreciator. Every trip through the airport requires a few extra minutes for us because he enjoys shaking the hand of those traveling in uniform; expressing our appreciation for their service.

That simple habit brought us to a "Divine Appointment" moment on the OH trip.

We got to our gate on Tuesday and I stepped to the desk requesting a seat in the exit row. Score!! There were two seats with extra leg room still available and we snagged them. This was going to be a great trip!

The boarding process was about to begin and I wanted to make a final pit stop. (Airplane bathrooms can pose a health risk - like claustrophobia!) But I waited by our bags while Frank shook the hand of one more young man wearing army fatigues.

When I got back from the restroom Frank said, "Honey, go over there and speak to that young lady. That was her husband or boyfriend leaving and she's crying."


Frank is the one anointed to walk up to perfect strangers and become part of their lives - not me.

"I think she's on her cell phone, Sweetheart. I don't want to interrupt her." Totally legitimate excuse.

At just that moment, she turned toward us, making it obvious she was not on her cell phone. Deep sigh.

"Sheri, go speak to her. Just ask if we can be praying for them." He wasn't going to change his mind and they were about to call our boarding zone.

So I slipped over to the lovely young lady and sat on the edge of the seat across from her. When she looked up, I realized she was about Kristin's age. Tears trickled from her beautiful eyes and compassion welled up in my heart.

"Excuse me," I began. "My husband just spoke with your....... (I faltered) um, was that your husband or boyfriend?"

"He's my fiance," she attempted a feeble smile and swiped at yet another stray tear.

"Oh, I see." By now my fears were forgotten. Everything in me just wanted to reach out and pull her into a big mama hug! "Is he being deployed?"

"Yes, he's going to Afghanistan for a year." Again the brave smile.

I reached over and patted her knee. "I'm so sorry. But my husband and I would like to pray for him while he's away. Would you mind me asking his name?"

She studied my face for a brief moment then nodded her head. "Um, that would be great! David, his name is David."

"Well, we'll be praying. For him and for you, okay?" My southern mama self couldn't resist, I had to pat her once more. This time on the shoulder as I stood to leave.

"Thank you," she said. "Thank you very much!" Her sincerety touched me.

They were calling for us to board so Frank and I gathered our things and hurried to the gate.

I reported all she'd said as we squeezed ourselves down the center aisle, searching for 22A and 22B.

When we neared our prized exit row seats, my eyes widened in surprise. The individual in 22C was........ (did you already guess it?)...... DAVID.

Divine Appoinment.

Frank and I exchanged knowing glances; we recognize a set-up when we see one. We settled in and waited until the plane had taken off.

I leaned over and asked casually, "Is your name David?"

He looked a bit surprised. "Yes. Yes it is."

I quickly explained. "I met your fiance at the gate. We saw that she was crying and wanted to let her know that my husband and I would be praying for you both."

"Yes, I know," he said. Now it was my turn to look surprised.

"She texted me as soon as you walked away. That meant so much to her. And to me. Thank you very much!"

Now tears started stinging my eyes.

The flight to Atlanta took an hour. We didn't monopolize David's conversation time. Several others on the plane wanted the opportunity to greet him and express their appreciation too.

But we did get to let him know:
  • he would be prayed for,
  • his service was significant,
  • our meeting wasn't mere chance!
Speaking to David's fiance meant walking W-A-Y out of my comfort zone. But the trip was worth it.

I have a dear friend who's granddaughter will be in the states for only a few days this month. Instead of saying, "Oh, I'd love to see you Sweetie. Why don't you come down here?" My friend is getting on a plane herself and going to where her granddaughter is!

Time, money, effort - all expenditures outside her comfort zone. But a trip that says more to that precious military granddaughter than all the "words" my friend could ever say!

I love God's divine appointments, don't you?!