Monday, March 12, 2018

You Are Now Free To Move Around The Country...But Stay Spread Out

The past three weeks have been ones of grieving for many in my circles of friends, co-workers, believers, and former colleagues. On Sunday, February 18, in the closing announcements of our AM worship time, we were blindsided by the news of the passing of Loa Glenn several hours before. Nothing prepares you for that kind of news. I had known Loa and her husband, Greg, for thirty five years and moved to Houston because of them twenty years ago. Our upper school assistant, Christy McDonald, booked my plane tickets and my rental car for the unexpected journey to Nashville, Tennessee. As usual when traveling domestically, I flew on Southwest Airlines. Before my folks passed away, I was a frequent flyer on Southwest as the Houston to St. Louis drive was simply time prohibitive. Most of my time in the air now is on my way to and from Vietnam for my summer missions on Singapore Airlines, a carrier as different as can be compared to Southwest but they have one thing in common. Both airlines are very good at what they do. Singapore Airlines handles my long (13 hours!) flights while Southwest carries me in two hours from one US city to another. Singapore Airlines has assigned/requested seats while Southwest is first come, first serve. One has luxury meals while one serves peanuts and Diet Coke. But they come together at this juncture- the employees are incredibly helpful and kind to the customers, not what I've found on some domestic airlines. I plan to keep my relationship with both!

As I prepared to return to Houston late Saturday afternoon after an inspiring memorial service and being with friends I hadn't seen in more than a decade, I heard a very odd announcement in the gate as I prepared to board. We, my fellow travelers and I, were informed that our jet was the largest in the Southwest fleet but that we only had fifty-three customers. And so, we were instructed to spread out once we climbed aboard and began the process of choosing our seat according to the Southwest open seating policy. I asked a flight attendant when I was walking up the aisle and she said, and I quote, weights and balances. When every passenger was seated, a voice on the intercom said five people in the front section had to move or we would sit on the runway until they did. BANG! Five quickly moved back! I guess no one wants to sit at a gate on Saturday night when they have places to be!

The next morning in worship, I talked to Kevin, one of our elders who is a pilot for one of the largest airlines. I told Kevin about the experience. He told me that the concentration of passengers used to be done manually but now there is some device which measures the weight distribution. I was shocked by the whole scenario. Almost every flight I'm on is full so maybe I've just never been aware of  this kind of situation before. I was dumbfounded that the relocating of several human beings can have an impact on the ability of a huge jet to navigate the friendly or not so friendly skies. (A colleague last week told me his recent experience flying will lead to his permanent boycotting of a major airline!)

Balance is so important in our lives. Too much emphasis in one area leads to too little care in another. Our kids started spring break Friday at 3:25 PM and they were ready. (So were the teachers!) Their lives are so much more complicated than mine at the same time. They have to balance life in a way I never considered at sixteen or seventeen, or even thirteen or fourteen as may be the case. Sleep goes out the window along with nutrition from eating on the run, or not eating at all. What else is put on the back burner? Physical activity? Friendships? I'm a routine kind of guy. When something prohibits me from my daily schedule, something is sacrificed. I might eat take out instead of making a salad. I might skip a day of lifting or swimming. I might put off a note that needs to be written or a blog which needs to be finished. Every morning, I read the one year bible online and I can catch up if I miss a day. But I can't catch up on prayer, the one part of my day that has the most to do with my balance. The other stuff might take me away from what I feel is my best self but the neglecting of prayer overrides everything else. Jesus went off early in the morning by Himself to pray. That always came first and from what is recorded, He always made time to speak and commune with His Father. Our days are simple compared to His. So many demons to cast out, so many children to bless, so many crowds to feed, so many parables to teach, so many lepers to heal, so many things to do. Life changing, universe altering mountains that had to be climbed for you and me. But He knew where His balance came from and that it could never be delayed or temporarily set aside for more pressing and urgent matters. Two thousand years later, it still rings true. It's a pretty good flight plan, my friends.

Applicable quote of the day:
Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance.
Brian Tracy

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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