It took three planes and an attentive ear to get to Victoria, British Columbia.
Yesterday morning about 4:45 a.m., I pointed my car south to the Miami International Airport for the first of three flights covering 3358 miles and three time zones. My destination was the C2C Church Planting Retreat in Victoria, British Columbia.
I’ll save you the story of the two women at the Miami International who had to taste-test the coffee at Einstein’s and then count out — to the penny — the .69 of their $23.69 bill. Doesn’t everyone come to the airport to test coffee? Meanwhile sleep-starved, travel weary patrons with mere minutes to spare before final boarding call wait with with polite anxiety to grab a quick bite and cup of hot Joe.
The flight from Miami to San Francisco was uneventful — just five and one-half hours of close quarters contact that would test the dexterity of any Olympic gymnast. We touched down in The City by the Bay at 10:30 a.m. My second flight was set to board in 30 minutes and depart in 60. No biggie. I can move fast.
But then it got tricky.
Rushing out of the Jetway I searched the Arrivals/Departures board, but I did not see my flight. I didn’t even see my airline.
I hustled over to the nearest gate agent. This was no time to display my manly tracking skills. I needed help and I needed it fast. The agents response was classic. “Oh, I don’t know where that airline is ... but it’s not in this terminal!”
Did I mention that I only had 30 minutes until boarding? I was down to twenty-seven minutes. I had harbored high hopes of grabbing a quick lunch, but that idea was now in serous jeopardy. The agent tapped her keyboard, found my airline, and directed me out of the terminal to “International flights.”
Out of the terminal? Are you kidding me? That means I’m going to have to go through TSA a second time. TSA in Miami was worse that waiting on the ladies at the Einstein counter. At this point, I am thinking “I'm never going to make it.”
Before stepping of the terminal (and virtually guaranteeing missing my flight), I stopped to talk with three TSA agents in hopes that I could by-pass the system. “Hey, is there anyway I can get around this?" While nice, their response was not encouraging. “Sorry guy, you’ll have to go out of the terminal and then re-enter at International.”
And this is where the "attentive ear" was very important.
To the San Francisco initiated, the directions to the International terminal are probably obvious, but for a Florida boy attempting to navigate a California terminal, I might as well have been searching for the lost city of Atlantis.
The TSA agent said, “Just turn left, look for International, Terminal 1 — and run real fast all the way to the end. You’ll make it.”
Thanks a lot! The clock was ticking and I had to run a couple of football fields, clear TSA, find my gate, and get on board (did I mention that I had to go to the bathroom?)
Shannan can attest to the fact that my listening skills, while improving after almost 34 years of marriage, still leave much to be desired. I ran around the corner in the general direction the TSA agent pointed — looked for Terminal 1 and thought I remembered him saying something about escalators — so I ran up the escalators. There was no Terminal 1 at the top of the escalators. Obviously I was not listening very well. I ran back down the escalator. Then I saw it — the sign pointing to the oasis that was International, Terminal 1. And I ran!
I arrived sweaty and with a hacking cough and am only now (forty thousand feet above sea level) regaining my equilibrium. But there is a lesson here about paying attention to the One who knows the way.
When the nation of Israel was standing on the far side of the Jordan river, preparing to enter the Promised Land and take the next leg on their journey with God, God said
These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you. Hear, O Israel ... Deuteronomy 6:1-4
The word, "hear" means, “Listen up! Pay attention because what I am about to tell you is very important."
What God is telling us is that we need to hear from Him. In fact, we need God's direction every day more than I needed direction from the TSA agent today. So how do we get it?
- Hear the Word of God through the weekly teaching of your pastor. It's the pastor's job to "preach the word" (2 Timothy 4:2). Listening to radio preachers and podcasts is great, but they are a poor substitute for sitting under the weekly preaching/teaching ministry of the pastors who are charged to care for your soul (Hebrews 13:17).
- Hear the Word of God through daily reading of the Scriptures. This is no magic number, but take 15 minutes at the beginning of your day to open up God's Word and read it. If you haven't been reading the Bible a lot, I would suggest NOT starting at Genesis and trying to work all the way to Revelation. Try this instead: Read the Gospels in 40 Days. Click here for a plan you can follow. Before reading, ask God to open the eyes of your understanding and speak to your heart through His Word. Go slow.
- Hear the Word of God through good Christian music. I listen to lots of different kinds of music. Like cotton candy, some is really "sweet" but not very nutritious. But then there are some songs and artists (Lauren Daigle, Matt Redmon, 10th Avenue North, Paul Baloche, All Sons & Daughters, and Big Daddy Weave to name a few) that are more like a good steak -- filling and nourishing. Click here for one such song.
There are many voices vying for your attention today. There is only one that you absolutely must hear.