If you fly the friendly skies very often at all you see the best and the worst in people. You also see firsthand those who truly love their job… I mean, whether they are having a good day where everything is spot on schedule and the skies are fair, or whether they are dealing with delays caused by stormy weather and the highest level of frustration in the voices and faces of travelers who will not make their flights. Such is the case this past week on a very sunny day that because of a radar issue when my flight was a bit delayed and I witnessed the actions of a gate attendant (we’ll call her Betty.) I watched as Betty, a seasoned employee with the sweetest spirit handle the delay with poise and professionalism. For twenty minutes or prior to the scheduled time we chatted about the weather… it was a beautiful morning as I mentioned earlier. We talked about church… since I’m a Pastor it’s not long before that subject comes up and as she shared with me, her father was a minister also. And we talked about grandkids… that topic usually comes up and if you know me personally, you are smiling right now! So, it was our previous conversation and getting to know a little about Betty, “this very sweet employee of an Airline that will remain nameless” that sets up what was about to happen. It wasn’t long before the radar issue was resolved and the plane we were to board landed and pulled up to the jet way. When boarding began as I walked by the counter to board the plane I approached Betty’s work station to scan the boarding pass on my phone as I always do. It was then, with the nicest smile on her face she whispered to me, “your seat is now 4-f.” Now I’ve flown enough to know that on this particular aircraft that’s a first-class seat! The thing is, I hadn’t purchased a first-class ticket, but that’s just where I was headed, to sit in a first-class seat! Perhaps it was the result of a computer error, or maybe it was the airlines’ way of saying, Tim, you’re such a valued customer we’re going to bump you to first-class today. But I don’t think that was the case. What I think happened was, that a stellar employee who out of the goodness of her heart filled an empty first-class seat with a pastor she had just gotten to know better during a conversation about the weather, her family and her God. God Bless you Betty… if that is your real name!
You’ve probably figured out where I am going with all this. You see, we serve a first-class God! Everything He does, He does with excellence! His Love and Care… they are the Best. His will for our lives, His plans for our future and His design for His creation… you guessed it… the Best! God is first class all the way. The problem is that access to God’s best isn’t through a booking agency nor is it something that can be purchased by anyone’s bank account or credit line. Access to this boarding pass is through a relationship, a relationship with God himself.
Perhaps you’ve heard the story of the plane that was on its way to London when a man in economy class got up and moved into an open seat in the first-class section. The flight attendant saw him do this, and politely informed him that he had to sit in economy because that’s the ticket he paid for. The man replied, “I’m going to London… and I’m staying right here.” After repeated attempts and no success at convincing the man to move the attendant went into the cockpit and informed the pilot and co-pilot that there was a man sitting in first class who refused to go back to his proper seat. The co-pilot went back and explained why he needed to move, but once again the man replied by saying, “I’m going to London… and I’m staying right here.” The co-pilot returned to the cockpit and suggested that perhaps they should have the arrival gate call the police and have the man arrested when they land. The pilot said, “I’ll handle this.” He went back to the man and whispered quietly in his ear, and immediately he says, “Oh, I’m sorry,” then quickly moves back to his seat in economy class. The flight attendant and co-pilot were amazed and asked him how he’d gotten him to move back to economy without causing any fuss. “I told him first class wasn’t going to London!” All kidding aside, the scripture tells us that we’re all travelers in this world. We’re just passing through this life. Pastor Peter says that We are “…aliens and strangers in the world…” You see, once we became Christians we didn’t just become worshippers of God— we became children of God. We didn’t deserve to be children of God, but God “bumped us up” to first class. So, the question is not, are you on the plane, the question is are you traveling first-class?
Tim Throckmorton is the former Executive Pastor of the Plymouth Heights Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace Ohio and the Portsmouth First Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace, Ohio. He is currently the Senior Pastor at Crossroads Church in Circleville, Ohio.ReachReach