“I think they double-booked our seats.”
I looked across the aisle at the petite, curly-haired woman, who appeared to be about my age. She was talking with a young couple, who were occupying two seats together on the airplane. After studying their tickets, everyone realized the young woman from the couple was supposed to be seated next to me.
“Why would they give us seats that are across the aisle from one another?” she asked the young man who was with her.
“I don’t know,” he said.
“Well, I don’t mind sitting in your seat,” said the older woman, “if it’s okay with everyone else. Is it okay with you?” she asked, directing her focus to me.
“Sure. That’s fine,” I said.
She settled into the aisle seat next to mine.
“My name’s Dawn,” she said. “Are you going to Canton on business or for pleasure?”
“My name’s Susan,” I said. “This is definitely a pleasure trip,” I added. “I am meeting my mother, sisters, sisters-in-law, aunt, and two cousins for a long weekend at my sister’s lake house. I am really looking forward to having some time with family.”
“Me too,” she added. “I’m going to my nephew’s wedding.”
We talked about our families and where we lived for a while, and somewhere within our conversations, we discovered we both loved Jesus. After that, our talk took a decided turn toward joy. We shared how we came to know Him. We talked about our trials and how He made Himself known in them. We talked about the Lord’s faithfulness and our gratitude for His presence in our lives. We expressed our desire for others to know His wonderful love for them. We were jump-up-and-down happy to praise God together.
Then it hit me: There it is–another kindness from the Lord. I remembered that just last week, I was telling the Lord how much I missed my friend Phyllis. She went home to be with Him suddenly and unexpectedly a few months ago. Phyllis and I used to have lots of these jump-up-and-down, praise-the-Lord moments together. Now, at 30,000 feet, I was having another one of those experiences with a newfound friend.
“Thank you, Lord,” I silently prayed.
Dawn and I talked and talked until the plane landed in Canton, Ohio. The flight seemed to only last a few minutes. I was overwhelmed by the Lord’s kindness. He taught me some valuable lessons through the woman on the plane:
God’s blessings are all around us.
I know the Lord brought Dawn and me together. He decided to bless us just because He can. He blessed mankind when He first created them (Genesis 1:28), and He still desires to bless His own (Psalm 3:8; Matthew 23:37). We can ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the Lord’s activity around us, to give us eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart tendered to His voice (Matthew 13:13).
Halfway through our conversation, Dawn said to me, “It wasn’t a mistake that I got to sit next to you. That was God’s plan all along.” She saw the blessing, what God had done. She heard the blessing, in the encouraging words we spoke to one another, and she felt the blessing in her heart.
At a women’s conference years ago, the speaker shared that the Hebrew word for happy is asher or esher, which means a psychological awareness of the movement of God. Seeing God at work around us truly can make us happy. I know I experienced that on my American Airlines flight.
God wants to use us to bless others.
I told Dawn, “The Lord says to ‘encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called Today,’ (Hebrews 3:13, NASB), and that’s what He is leading us to do for one another. It can be a hard world out there, and we need this as God’s people.”
Jesus Himself said, “‘It is more blessed to give than to receive'” (Acts 20:35, NASB). When the Lord uses us to bless someone else, we discover a profound and often unexpected joy. I remember one year on Valentine’s Day when my daughter Katie was discouraged because she didn’t have a boyfriend. I challenged her to find someone she could bless on Valentine’s Day, instead of focusing on her plight. She and several friends offered to prepare dinner and babysit for a young couple in our church. They all received a blessing from the experience, and Katie announced after it was over, “This has been the best Valentine’s Day ever!”
Whether we are in a happy or sad place, we can always ask the Lord, “Please show me someone I can bless today in Your name.” When we do, we take the focus off ourselves (getting) and focus instead on giving. In the end, both parties get blessed. The Lord promises His people in Genesis 12:2 that they will be a blessing. He empowers us through His Holy Spirit to be so. We just have to allow the Spirit to lead and operate through us.
I once heard it explained about the Dead Sea this way: It is dead, and there is no life in it because it has an inlet (always receiving) and no outlet (never giving). People can be that way too. If we are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26), and He is a Giver, then we should be too (1 John 4:7-12). He gave the greatest gift of all–His only begotten Son Jesus–to save us from having to pay the penalty for our own sins (John 3:16).
It’s all for God’s glory.
After the plane landed and Dawn was getting ready to disembark, I prayed over her the prayer I would always speak over Phyllis before she left our bi-weekly prayer and praise sessions: “The Lord bless you, and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26, NASB).
I told her, “The Lord named you Dawn for a reason. Matthew 5:16 (NASB) says, ‘Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.’ Keep shining for Him.”
“Oh, I wish my life were like that,” Dawn said. “Sometimes, I wonder if I’m making any difference for Him.”
“Oh, you do!” I said. “You did exactly that for me today. I see Him in you, and I am praising Him that He allowed our paths to cross.”
“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him” (Psalm 34:8, NIV).
The Lord grants us unending blessings and makes us glad with the joy of His presence; His unfailing love keeps us going (Psalm 21:6-7, NIV). That’s what I encountered through the woman on the plane. She revealed more of the Lord’s kindness to me. The Lord used her to show me some of His glory.
That’s the greatest blessing of all–to know Him better and love Him more as we experience Him in the world around us. He can always take us to new heights–whether we are at 30,000 feet or have our feet firmly planted on the ground. Look for Him today, beloved. He is all around you and wants you to see, hear, and feel His great love for you . . . and then share it with others.
Question: How have you experienced the Lord’s blessings in your life? Comment at the link below.
Genesis 1:28; Psalm 3:8; Matthew 23:37; 13:13; Hebrews 3:13; Acts 20:35; Genesis 12:2; 1:26; 1 John 4:7-12; John 3:16; Numbers 6:24-26; Matthew 5:16; Psalm 34:8; 21:6-7