Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Flying Standby

Six weeks ago my oldest daughter had a baby making me and my wife grandparents for the first time!  My wife and I were overjoyed and made arrangements to visit her, her husband, and the baby (Really we only wanted to see the baby.  I'm told that's how it is when you become a grandparent!)  They live in Indiana and to make the most of our time we decided to fly up for a few days.  They live in Fort Wayne and our flight made a transfer in Chicago.

We boarded our flight in Dallas bubbling over with excitement only to be discouraged when the pilot came over the intercom and informed us that our flight would be delayed because of some technical issues in Chicago.  Usually that's not a big deal, but on this flight we had only a brief layover and now were in fear of missing our connecting flight. 

We finally took off and calculated that there was a slim chance we could make the next flight, so upon landing we rushed out of the plane, located our next gate, and high-tailed it through O'Hare hoping to make the flight.  Even though we made great time, especially for grandparents, when we arrived at the gate the flight had left.

I was not a happy grandfather and expected there to be some special grandparent charter ready to take us to Fort Wayne, but I was told in no uncertain terms that there was no such thing!  Our choices were to take a flight the next day (and miss an evening with our grandson) or fly standby on the next flight to Fort Wayne. 

Flying standby is a very uncertain fate.  Apparently, all the seats are sold and you're put on some waiting list in case someone doesn’t show up.  As the plane is boarded you wait until everyone else is loaded and if there's room you get called!

Flying standby is very uncertain.  I was not happy.  I was very restless.  I don’t like flying standby.

The apostle John wrote three letters in our New Testaments to believers addressing several issues, and one issue seemed to be that there were some who had doubts about their salvation.  Some false teachers had planted the idea that salvation depended on attaining some special knowledge that only some could arrive at.  Other factors contributed to a loss of confidence and resulted in a loss of joy.  Christians were left feeling uncertain about their status with God even though they had confessed Christ.  It was almost as if they were flying standby, hoping that somehow their name would be called.  They were not happy.  They were restless.

John knew that this is not how Christians should feel, so in his first letter he repeatedly reminds them that they can live lives of certainty, not doubt.   He repeatedly uses the word "know" to assure them that their ticket had been purchased and confirmed by the sacrifice of Christ and nothing but their own refusal could change that.  Listen to his words of confidence:   "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life." (1 John 5:13, NIV)

Christian, you don’t have to doubt.  No one flies standby in the Kingdom of God.  Your seat is open and you’re all clear to fly!

As the plane was all boarded we waited anxiously for our names to be called and, not a second too soon, the gate agent called, "Catteau, party of two."   Relief and joy came over us.  We made it!  

Thank God.  We made it!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Time Flies!

It’s homecoming for Denison High School this weekend and being a parent of a couple of DHS students I’m experiencing some of the pageantry of the event. Thursday was the Homecoming parade right down the middle of Main Street. It featured the homecoming queen nominees, club sweethearts, the band, football team, cheerleaders, drill team, color guard, and hundreds of adoring parents, grandparents, citizens, and friends.

All of that was great but what really caught my imagination in the parade were the echoes from the past, in particular the trailer carrying the 1984 State Champion football team.  They're all looking good, but you would have no trouble distinguishing them from the current team thirty years their junior.  Suddenly my mind shifted into fast forward imagining all the young, energetic young men and women who had passed my way decades from now returning to the parade as “echoes from the past.”

Ask anyone from the class of 1984 and they’ll all agree—time flies! One day you’re walking to class and the next day you’re thirty years older and riding on a trailer!

Life is a wonderful adventure that we sometimes let slip through our fingers not realizing how valuable and precious every moment is. Each day is a gift from God and how we choose to unwrap that gift makes all the difference in the world.

Hearing those echoes from the past reminds me of this and challenges me to embrace every day. To use it to glorify God, to be a blessing to those who share this day with me. But more than that these echoes remind me of my future—not just here, but in another land at another Homecoming. As my mind fast forwards to that day my heart is filled with a glorious anticipation—one that not only increases my longing to go home but also makes the journey so much sweeter!