Total Strangers

Three hours on the Palm Springs runway, a missed flight, and a night at a sketchy hotel had me a bit ragged by this morning. Destined to hinge upon the hopes of getting a stand-by seat all day, I flopped down by a familiar enough face. It was the face of a girl I saw the night before as we both tried to figure out what was next for us at Denver International Airport. I said hello and asked her if she was trying to get to Oklahoma as well. She replied that she was, and off started a friendly conversation about how we were going to get home.

Not knowing that we would have no luck getting on the first flight, we eventually resigned to silence as I typed away on my Blackberry and she called her mother. Eventually her friend showed up as well, and we bemoaned our fate as the flight to Oklahoma City left us without even a trace of hope that our futures might brighten. Apparently fifteen other people were on standby just like us.

That's when we decided it was time we teamed up. As we went to customer service, we started to realize we were in this together. After they told us our chances were not good, we eventually decided to go to the next gate to see if we could get out on the second flight. On the way though we decided that we'd just drive home (eleven hour drive) if it didn't work out. Thankfully we got a flight to DFW, and then drove back to OKC. Good conversation pursued on the way home, and the ice eventually broke to the point that I felt like I was hanging out with people I'd known for a long time.

A nice story I suppose. But that's not really the point. I realized something today that was very important. I realized it was my duty to take care of those girls to be sure they got home. Never mind that they were both of age to take care of themselves (21 and 25). They needed someone calm and in-control to relieve their uncertainty.

It was a strange realization at first when I realized what was going on. I think for too long I've diminshed the male role to provide this kind of support and that this is what a female is often looking for. I'm not trying to downplay equality or even feminism. What I am trying to say is that as males we need to realize our role is that of a protector and provider.

Agree or disagree, it was good for me to realize this today. Even more strange, I felt valuable and needed while being with them and ensuring they got home. Perhaps that's how God designed us, male and female.


Low-Hanging Fruit

So tonight I prayed that God would help me develop kindness and love. I picked a few easy ones. I didn't pick say, patience or faithfulness, because I was afraid he might teach me these things. And to be honest, I'm not sure I really want to grow in these two areas right now. Wrong or right, that was my motivation for picking those two low-hanging fruit to work on.

You see, I've recently realized that God is listening. That God actually hears my prayers and answers them. To some of you this is a no-brainer. "Of course God answers our prayers Blake!" is what you are undoubtedly saying as you shake your head in dismay. And yes I know that. But I don't think I've always believed that.

Until, that is, I started keeping a prayer journal. Without my prayer journal I had no way of holding God accountable. That probably sounds sacreligious, but what I mean is that I had no way of holding God to what I was praying for. I would have some vague prayer before going to sleep and then forget what I prayed for the next day. So if God answered that prayer, I wouldn't necessarily attribute it to Him or even realize that it was an answer to my prayer. Now, though, I am armed with my trusty prayer journal and boy am I seeing God at work.

Which frightens me a little. Several times in the past month I've posed questions to God, and He's given me answers I didn't like. Other times He's challenged me in ways I asked for, but maybe didn't necessarily realize what I was getting into. So it's making me a bit wary. Do I really want to grow in these areas? Do I really want to know the answer to a certain question? If I throw it at God, I now know He will answer and that He is listening.

So I prayed to grow in kindness and love. They seem safe enough fruits to pray for. We'll see.


Hiding Behind the Bible

Each Monday morning at 7, three or four of us meet at my friend Matt's office. For about thirty minutes we get together, read something from the Bible that's been on our hearts, and then pray. Then it's time for another busy week. I like this time. It helps us focus on the week ahead, and hopefully brings a realization that our jobs are more than just serving the company.

This week it was my turn to bring a few verses to share. I thought about discussing Heaven since it's been on my mind a lot lately (probably because for several weeks now I'd rather be there than here!). I thought about borrowing some verses from Isaih since it is really cool, and I've been enjoying it a lot lately. Then I decided that no - the Bible wasn't where it was at.

You see, I think we can hide behind the Bible. I think we can have really high-minded, theological discussions that really get us nowhere. If I'm not around my M.Div friends I can sound like I know a lot about the Bible, and like I really know what God is all about. It's easy to discuss a few verses and walk away feeling slightly assuaged with whatever plagues me because I found a Bible sound-bite that makes me feel good for an hour.

Today though, I didn't want to hide. I didn't want to discuss Heaven. Not because I don't want to go there, but because I knew that would just be a shield. I could make my buddies think that I was a deep, spiritual person but I wanted them to know that I had doubts. That I was struggling. And so I opened up. And they opened up. And for a few minutes, there was true discussion that was very spiritual. All without the Bible.

I don't think the Bible is a bad thing. I love God's word! I try to read it everyday. But sometimes I think I use it to hide behind a wall. Today it was refreshing to take off the theology hat for just awhile and talk. Maybe next Monday we'll do it again.