I walked down the aisle, stuffed my carry ons under the seat in front of me, adjusted my travel pillow and comfortably waited for the plane to take off. Since I didn’t get a seat next to my daughter, I suspected the three-hour flight would either be filled with sleeping or reading. I should have not been surprised when it didn’t go as planned. Life never does, even on an airplane to San Francisco.
Down the aisle came a gentleman who quite obviously had spent a great deal of time in the gym. We cordially said our Hello’s, the flight attendant gave the usual instructions and I thought I was home free for a quiet ride to my destination. That quietness lasted a brief half minute….then my seat mate began to talk.
“Are you traveling with a sports team?” he said. I couldn’t help but smile while answering, “No, I am with my three daughters.” “Oh, I thought they were your athletes!”
My girls didn’t know which was funnier. The thought of me being a coach or them being a sports team. Either way though, this began a three-hour conversation with a man who didn’t even give his name.
Perhaps he thought he had a captive audience or maybe he was expecting shock from this rural Kansas Momma. Whichever the case, what started as a casual conversation about California and Kansas ended up with both of us sharing our faith.
What I didn’t know as the mystery man began to speak was that he was an ordained youth pastor for the Assembly of God church. What he didn’t know was I attend an Assembly of God church. Coincidence….no, more like destiny!
I have reflected on the conversation more than once since that day. My airplane buddy talked about how he is an undercover narcotics agent in California. A profession where he can’t openly talk about his faith. Yet, one in which he hopes his faith does show through!
Oh, yeah…that little tid bit of information he was hesitant to share. He believed in, trusted and relied on God. He actually had a theological degree. “What denomination?” I asked. “I really am not into all that denomination stuff. But am ordain with the Assemblies of God.” Again, I had to smile. Ok God, I thought. Jokes on me! All the way to San Francisco with an ordained pastor! Of course, “Undercover!”
As surprising as it might be to those of you who know me, I listened more and talked less that early morning. Mr. Undercover needed to talk. He shared about the crazy hours, sleepless nights, time away from his family and danger he daily faces. Church had become more of an inconvenience for him than a solution. I realized those words could have come out of my mouth as well. (Just not the danger part!)
We didn’t get into a heated theological or scriptural debate. No, we were just two children of God, sharing our life stories and how interwoven God was in them.
As the plane taxied to a stop, we cordially said our goodbye’s. He want back to his friends and I went back with my “team.” 🙂 I have wondered about our conversation. A chance visit on an early morning plane. Were there nuggets of truth he needed to speak or was something said which he needed to hear? Were there nuggets I needed to hear? Honestly, I can’t say why God had our paths cross, but He did. A narcotics agent and a rural Kansas Mom, two total strangers from different backgrounds…with the one most important aspect in common. A deep abiding love for and faith in God.