Thanks to Continental Airlines, the saga continues… After a GREAT 3 days in the mountains of the Chattahoochie Forest, I hopped in the car with a couple of guys to head back to Atlanta International Airport. My flight took off at 2:15pm and we headed to Bush Airort in Houston–a flight that takes a mere hour and fourty minutes. But when we arrive in Houston the weather is so bad that we can't land, so we circle Houston for another hour. Then we circle it for another hour. After two hours of this 15,000 feet merry-go-round, they send us to New Orleans. Thirty minutes en route to New Orleans, the captain announces we don't have enough fuel to get there, so we're putting down at Lake Charles. "It'll take about 15 minutes", says my guide to the friendly sky, "we'll just refuel and take off to Houston…thanks for your patience." When we get to Lake Charles, we get stuck on the runway (weather again) for another hour and fifteen minutes. Finally, we are up and heading back to Houston. When we finally touch down at Bush, 8:03 to be exact, I have obviously missed my 5:30 connecting flight to Austin…. Good times. The frazzled woman wearing a nice, shiny 'How can we help you?' badge is not looking forward to my visit. I need to get to Austin. Now. Her name is Sandy. She tells me there are two flights to Austin tonite. 10:50pm and 1:30 a.m. "You are freakin' kidding me, right?" I ask. I forget I'm a minister. "I've been circling your airport all night. I need to get to Austin NOW. I know it's not your fault, the weather and all, but your company screwed up my flight outta here on Monday and I don't want you to screw it up any more than absolutely necessary!" My voice begins to tighten…I'd better just walk away. I do. And as I'm walking, I her Sandy calling, "Sir! Sir! Excuse me?!" I whip around on my heels. "For some reason, the computer shows that your 5:30 flight is still sitting at the gate. You can go down to E9 and see if you can get on…if not, …then……you………could……………" Forget it. I'm already gone. My new target is getting on the plane at E9, whatever it takes. God, in His mercy, smiles on my flight-plight. There's a sweet little lady at the gate who squeezed me into one of the last two remaining seats. It's cramped. It's crowded. The lady next to me smells like BO. We make small talk about travelling. About Austin. And we sit on the tarmac for an hour and a half waiting in line to get off the ground. But at 10:15 we touch down in Austin. Thank God and Continental. More than one person has asked me, "Do ya' think God just didn't want you to go to Atlanta? Seems like you had lots of problems…" Sheesh. You're kidding me, right? Do we really think that following Christ is about living a life with no frustrations? No headaches? Is the gospel really about following some kind of messianic Santa Claus or benevolent genie-god that makes life easy? Give me a break. It bugs me how much God gets blamed for things. Flight delays. Car trouble. AIDS. Wars. Miscarriage. Jesus told you that in this world you will have trouble. Why are we surprised when it happens? It just confirms the truth of God. Sometimes stuff just happens–it's part of life. Yet we are quick to place blame somewhere. Anywhere. And who better to blame, than God himself. After all, he had the power to control it, right? Why didn't he? Is he mad at me? Did I commit some kind of sin? Who sinned so that this happened? (sound familiar?) Granted, there are times when God disciplines His children. There are times when God closes doors as we try to walk through them. There are also times when the reality of spiritual warfare becomes apparent and it seems those forces are working against us as we work for the Kingdom. All of this is true. But why is our first response to blame God? Is it because we think everything revolves around us? Is it some kind of Puritanical guilt that we're being punished for our many sins? Is it that we see God as some kind of intangible father figure that shakes a finger at us from thousands of years ago and says, "Don't do it or I'll spank you!" Stuff happens. 'Why' it happens we can debate. The more important question to me is 'How do you handle it when it does happen?' What does it do to you? What comes out of you? Because what comes out of you is what's in your heart. When stuff happens, don'tblame anyone. Ask God to make you more like Christ through it. Our goal is not an easy road, but Christ-likeness. Remember: "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." Don't blame God. It wasn't Him.
I couldn’t sleep Sunday night. And it’s not anything spiritual like over at Steve McCoy’s space. It’s just my old buddy, Insomnia, back for another visit. At 2:46 a.m. I got out of bed and flipped on the tube. Reruns. Infomercials. Fitness equipment that promise great abs in only 4 minutes a day.
At 4:45 a.m. my alarm went off. I hit the shower, grabbed a jumbo cup of Starbucks, and headed out to Austin-Bergstrom Airport to fly to Atlanta via Houston.
At 6:00 the lady at the Continental check-in desk tells me I have no ticket. (Long story I won’t go into here.) So, I pay a mere $800 for a ticket at the gate. I’m ticked. Not only am I out $800, but it’s 6:00 in the freakin’ morning. On a Monday. With no sleep.
At 8:00 I arrive in Houston to transfer to Atlanta. But my Atlanta fight has been delayed from 9:00 to 10:15. No biggie. I haul freight across the mongo-airport that is Bush International, I check my email, make some phone calls, and I’m good to go.
But wait. Now it’s been delayed to 10:55. Arrgh.
Nope…now it’s been delayed to 11:50.
Make that noon.
I’m actually headed to be a part of Global Youth Ministries’ Youth Ministry Mentor symposium. Since I’m officially old for a youth guy (39 next month), I guess they figure it’s time for me to start giving back to the ‘ol community.
Thanks to Continental Airlines, now I’ll be the crotchety old grumpy youth guy sitting in the corner, slurping coffee and mumbling that it’s past my bedtime.
I’m thinking, “This better be good.”
Today is Tuesday and, so far, it is.
If you haven’t heard of the newest Hasidic rap/reggae sensation to hit the airwaves since, well…ever, you should check him out here. Seriously.
After spending a week with some of our extended family in Colorado, I’ve been reminded how strange a lot we are. And how common the human condition is. Our extended family is a wonderfully irritating blend of Caucasion, Hispanic, and Asian Americans. Protestant, Catholic, Reformed, and Agnostic. Alcoholic and tee-totaler. Plastic surgery-obsessives … and slobs.
Driving home, listening to King’s X, the words of Doug Pinnick struck me hard. “Everyone of us loves everyone of us.” Yes, Sister Sledge, we ARE family. We don’t always get along. We irritate each other when we talk about politics, religion, and child-rearing. The religious crowd irritates the agnostic bunch. The Protestants don’t understand why we couldn’t have had hot dogs on Friday night. Those observing Lent don’t get why it’s not a bigger deal to the others. Others’ chlildren get on our nerves. The women form little gossip groups while the men slip into an evening of ESPN-induced comas…something about Terrell Owens signing on to play for the Big Tuna…
But on Sunday morning, we packed up and hugged each other. The events of the week didn’t matter anymore. The bottom line was that we share the same bloodline. Our blood defines us. And blood is thicker than, well, …anything temporal. We don’t always get along. We seldom spend a week without a heated argument, but in the end, we love each other. Everyone of us loves everyone of us.
It’s a beautiful picture of The Church. Broken. Dysfunctional. Conservative and Liberal. Republican, Democrat, and Green. Black, white, brown, yellow, red. From wealthy to welfare recipient. In the end, we have the same Blood running through our veins. It is what defines us. We argue and bicker. We fight. Sometimes over inconsequential things…sometimes over bigger issues. Some gather in the corner to choose sides and talk about those in the other corner of the room. Some simply slip into the rote, auto-pilot mode of ministry and go through the motions without much passion or life. We are an immature, capricious, insecure, and egotistic bunch.
And the amazing thing? We are His Bride. His Lover. The apple of His eye.
Does everyone of us love everyone of us? Jesus said, “This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples–when they see the love you have for each other.”
Now, that’s family.
Today was our last day skiing Winter Park. It was awesome. I spent the afternoon on the Mary Jane side of the mountain. She’s 30 years old this year…the gal’s got spunk. Perfect powder and all. I caught some righteous air (for an old guy) while totally diggin’ the scenery Our Creator seemed to create out of pure joy. (cue ‘God of Wonders’ here…)
I absolutely believe God enjoys His children enjoying His Creation…in all of its forms. Pictures cannot adequately capture it. You’ll just have to come back with me next time.
We leave tomorrow to head back to TEXAS! I’ll post more after we get settled. There’s a big winter storm blowing in tomorrow…traffic will be horrible…roads will be a nightmare…and hotels will be scarce….pray for our safety as we travel!
Last night I went on a ride-along with my brother-in-law at the Ft. Collins PD. We got a domestic disturbance call and headed out to the north side of town. The young, Hispanic male, (let’s call him Juan, because, well… that’s his name) was just coming down from a 3-day meth/crack bender and was pretty, um….….uncooperative. He had been beating up his girlfriend and his mother, and had put his head through a plate glass window in the process, so he wasn’t pretty. When we arrived on the scene, he was one hopped-up vato loco.
One of the officers decided, rather than wrestle with Juan and risk us getting injured, it was time to bring in the pepper spray. Crackhead Johnny dropped like a stone.
The officers took him to the ER for examination, a handful of stitches for his forehead, and to test his BAC (blood alcohol content). In Colorado, as in the great state of Texas, the legal limit is .08. Our buddy Juan blew a .339.
So, after lots of swearing and fighting, they were able to hog-tie Juan enough to get him in the squad car and transport him to jail.
It was a great night. We had other calls as well (car thefts, traffic accidents, etc.) including a few suicide calls. But I’ll reserve those for another post.
Hats off to the men in blue. Next time you get pulled over because your tail light is out, remember that he’s not necessarily there to ruin your night, but to protect you from someone else who is. Guys like Juan.
Back to the slopes…
Tomorrow, Heather, the boys and I head out for Winter Park, CO. for a week. I’ll be spending my spring break carving through the 70″ base of powder with my board over the next 8 days. Check out the ski conditions here.
Although I’m taking my laptop, my email and blogging will be sketchy at best. Nevertheless, I’ll take lots of pictures and post them when I get back.
In the meantime, watch for my face here.
(BTW, God provided a Juniper tree for Elijah here…)