December 05, 2011

Flying Stand By

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 (NASB)

In October, we flew to Phoenix for vacation. Because Bob is a retired commercial airline pilot, one of our retiree benefits includes free flights. We can even get you a “buddy pass” depending on the circumstances. Now before you start drooling thinking we can fly you – free – first class to Rio, well, it ain’t gonna happen! We can’t even fly ourselves first class to Atlanta. In fact, we can’t even fly to Atlanta.
There are rules.
The biggest rule demands that we fly stand-by. This means we can only get on the plane if they are going to take off with empty seats. When we fly to destinations unknown, it is always unknown until the last minute if we can even get a seat on the plane. We’ve been bumped to another flight. We’ve been removed from our seats on a flight at the last minute and we’ve turned around and gone home. However, in this world of million dollar price tags, we give thanks to God for the blessing.
Now if you know me at all, you know I don’t always fly well. I once made them let me off a plane, but that’s another story! I also don’t do mornings. However, Bob insists on first flights out when we travel. Imagine my shock the first time I discovered there was a 4:00 AM! In the morning? What’s that all about?
Upon waiting for our last flight to Phoenix, I noticed a young woman sitting next to us having trouble determining if she was going to make her flight. It was early, I was tired, and truthfully, I didn’t want to be bothered. She’d eventually figure it out.
God had other ideas. I guess He blessed me with a spiritual listening gift. It’s called eavesdropping. The more I listened to her, the more I knew Bob could help. She was talking to airline customer service. Bob had direct access to flight information via our trusty laptop. But did I really want to get involved? Go ahead say it:  shame on me!
She sounded so dreadfully pitiful and sweet and very concerned. Finally, I couldn’t stand it any longer, “Bob, you’ve got to help this woman!” Blessedly, my hubby has a better heart than I do. Without hesitation, he did.
It turns out she was flying on the “pass” of a friend and under the same guidelines as us. Unfortunately, the seniority guidelines placed her at the bottom of the totem pole. Not to mention her friend failed to clue her in on the nuances of flying stand-by. She had no clue what to expect or what to do if she did not get on the plane. With Bob’s help, she was able to formulate several contingency plans.
While we did make it on the flight, sadly she did not. However, we left her prepared for what was ahead and she was so very grateful for the help. Before I walked down the jet-way, she and I exchanged best wishes to one another. It was then I discovered she was a believer in Christ and that I would meet her again in Heaven. I was thrilled to learn, she was not living life on stand-by!
Many people on this planet refuse to fly at all. They don’t want to hear about planes because if God wanted them to fly, He would have given them wings. They are content to serve a god of nothingness – unwilling to acknowledge the existence of a destination called Heaven. Some do their best to offer this folks a free ticket but they aren’t biting. Others are content to fly stand-by. They stand by their works, trusting they’ve been good enough to get a seat on that heavenly flight when it comes time to depart. Their ticket is a “hope so” ticket. Unfortunately, it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on!
Well, I am here to tell you I AM NOT FLYING STAND-BY TO HEAVEN. I will not even complain if my flight departs in the wee hours of the morning. I have already been to the airport and picked up my ticket, my free ticket that Jesus paid for in advance. Non-refundable, non-transferable. All mine! Now I am just waiting until the Gate calls me to board.
Christmas is fast approaching. We once again deck the halls in preparation for a Birthday Party. There are so many things for us to celebrate! During this time of remembering Jesus’ birth, I’d be remiss not to also remember His death, burial and resurrection. Because of my faith in Christ, I live in the assurance of my heavenly reservation – my free ticket to Heaven. Free to me, but it cost The Son His life. Therefore, while I am standing by for that moment when God calls me home, I’m not going on stand-by! 
I’ll get carried away – when I get carried away!

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