Have I told you this story before?
It is a sad story so if you are not in the mood then perhaps you might want to read this later. I truly do not want to spoil your day.
Are you still here?
Well then, here is my sad tale.
Every so often I travel somewhere to do something, usually to speak to others about living like a Christian. This is a subject, by the way, that I am quite good at.
There are times when my wife, Angela, accompanies me. We both like to travel and everyone who knows her likes her a lot. And so, you might think at this point—this doesn’t sound very sad at all—but wait, and prepare yourself to feel deeply regarding my misery.
It happened the first time that we traveled by plane. During any given flight, since I am not behind a steering wheel, I take the time to study or read or write. This is such a personal time for me, and an extremely rare occasion in my life. So this was my continuing expectation even though this time, Angela was with me.
The first sign of trouble was her asking me about what we might do during our ‘layovers’. This occurred right after I had pulled a book out of my travel bag. Yep, you guessed, I had to talk with my wife the entire flight. She asked about the people that we were visiting, what I might be speaking about, with whom we were staying with, what sights we might take in…it just went on and on until she, finally tiring, took a little nap. By that time I was tired too so I slept as well.
The next time we flew I was prepared. As soon as a flight attendant reintroduced to us all how a seat belt worked and then the wheels were in the air, she turned to me for conversation. I countered with a stack of magazines that I had thoughtfully bought for her; her favorites. I figured that she would now be happily occupied while I returned to my own personal time and space. Empathize as I sorrowfully report that instead of delving into Bon Appetit, Architectural Digest, or Garden & Gun on her own—she solicited my comment and opinion for almost every page! I was once again forced into shared life.
Not long after that trip I was booked again somewhere else and she was once again invited to come along. Being the wise and resourceful person that I am, I took all my previous experiences and formulated the perfect plan. After lift-off I offered her a set of ear buds so she could enjoy the inflight movie. She readily accepted this gift with loving gratitude. But to my chagrin, as she enjoyed the film she constantly poked me with her elbow to signal the appearance on the screen of notable actors or pivotal scenes or points of gorgeous cinematography. As you might imagine this can make concentration on anything of importance highly difficult. When the film ended she asked to rest her head against my shoulder to which I complied. I even surrendered my hand to hers and as she slept leaning against me I realized I had failed again.
So that is my sad tale. Thanks for listening.
But before you leave and because of your kindness in sharing the burden of my personal cross. I’d like to utilize the gift that God has given me to encourage you in your personal walk. So here is the basic gist of what I usually talk about in those places that I travel to.
Romans 12:1-2 is well known to most of us. ‘I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.’
But what is not usually understood is its application. The application is purposely set in the rest of the chapter. For instance, the very next verse tells us that one way that we know that we have indeed offered our bodies as living sacrifices is that we don’t take a high view of ourselves—after all, we are all vitally connected to each other. The apostle Paul goes on to stress that the love we show to one another is to be genuine to the point of preferring others above ourselves.
So, look for occasions to do this.
I am sure that we all have tons of opportunities to practice this very basic aspect of our faith.
We just need to open our eyes.