Stranded in Dallas

It finally happened.  I missed a flight.

I am ex-military, which means I’ve been conditioned to be time-sensitive.  I not only pay attention to time, but I feel it, can guage when there’s plenty of it, or not enough for given tasks.   

When my flight from Columbus pulled up to the gate in Dallas last week, I knew that if my connection was on the other end of the airport, it was going to be tight. 

But I still might make it.

Despite my best efforts, it was not not be.  Factor in the need to go to the bathroom, getting on a tram that stopped mid-service, and getting lost for five minutes, and it all put me exactly sixty-seconds too late.  When the terminal door clicked shut, and the counter agent was making her way down the corridor, no amount of pounding on the glass could even get her to turn around.    

For airport employees, late passengers are part of the daily grind. It would have done no good to reason, to plead with her that I was different, that I had never missed a flight in all my travel-intensive life and that she should turn around, unlock the jet bridge door, and let me in.  Nah. One late dude is the same as the next.   

Having ruled out the possibility of a rental car, or alternate flights, that meant I had to stay a grueling seven hours in Dallas and lose a day’s worth of visitation with my elderly mother.

I was seething with anger—not so much at myself, because I had fairly run to the next gate, and not at the counter agent, because protocol probably justified doing what she did, and not so much at the airport for setting travelers up for a skin-of-their teeth connection.   Theologically I had dismissed the question of why God didn’t have my back, and so there was nothing left except to be angry with the circumstances—a definite waste of emotional energy akin to getting angry at the weather.

How much would this day be worth after my plans fell through?  Would it truly be a waste? What would I do with it?  There seemed to be nothing left except  to watch the ebb and flow of people into the airport Wattaburger.   

We all have only so many days.  Would this one be thrown away in the wake of simmering frustration?  There are plenty of options for a guy in those shoes—hanging around on Tic-Tock, news cycle binging, Netflix, shopping therapy.

But one of the many things we gain after salvation in Christ, is a way to assess life, to think about redemption.  There is no such thing as total loss, nor can there be under the hand of One we refer to as “My Redeemer.”

And as for those “wasted” hours in Dallas?  Psalms 90:12 says, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

Yes, I had been strongly tempted to declare defeat over a mundane inconvenience.    Though sore, I slowly relented, allowing a cascade of redemptive thoughts to prod me, reminding me that this day had a number assigned to it.  It hadn’t been devalued due to the faceless machine of the air travel industry.   

Regardless of what aggravation travel plans had dealt me, everything was rapidly coming down to a choice.  And “choose life” suddenly took on a meaning different than that used by evangelicals today.

Deut. 30:19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”

When I finally gave in, surrendered my right to fume, and let these words counsel me, new possibilities began to accrue. 

I have a Bible on my cell phone.

I have hundreds of Christian books (also on my cell phone)

I can take an unscheduled sabbath.

I could write a blog post…

4 comments

  1. Wow, John, you hit me right between the eyes with this one! (Frustration with wasted time is a regular feature of my life, and always leaves me feeling like God should be shaking His head and saying “Tsk, tsk, tsk!” to me. And I always say back, “Hey, I can’t help how I FEEL, can I?” What a sorry excuse.

    But your post has helped me to feel like I’m not alone … and also given me some good, practical things to devote what might otherwise be “wasted time” to. Thank you!!!

    ~ Larry

  2. And you could pray for anyone and everyone you see, other travelers, their companions coming or going, airport and airline employees, maintenance workers, cafe / store workers, taxi drivers, etc. And as prompted by the Holy Spirit, you can strike up a conversation, perhaps ask if that person minds if you pray for them, etc., etc., etc. I’ve done some or all that when waiting a looooonnnnngggg time for flight connections. Amazing how your outlook changes. You may be the ONLY Jesus some of them have ever met. Holy Spirit can and will enable you to see with His eyes, if you ask Him.

    1. So true, Bette. I’d wager we could assemble an impressive list of further possibilities. And as for those people…amazing how your mind set can drift into seeing them as your competition, your annoyance, etc., without a redemptive view.

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