The man seated opposite me is probably a decade my senior. Lean and muscular to excess, he is snacking on a health bar and appears oblivious to my existence, which is fine with me. I am not there to see him. I am there because I want to join my grandchildren for Grandparents’ Day at their school. But the school is actually hosting the day only for grandparents who are not storm-stranded in airports with geriatric weightlifters. My grounded jet is undermining my grounds for hoping to see my son and his family.
The core of Gamaliel’s advice to the Jerusalem senate about what they should do with their Christian nemeses is a nod to human weakness: “…for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them” (Acts 5:38-39). My desire to be in Nashville is as strong as the older man’s to be in Philadelphia—his muscle and my will equally ineffective in the face of a storm probably not in the top 100 mighty acts of God that hour, could we even gain access to such a chart.
I am making no progress in the journey I planned. But I am moving regularly from one gate to another with each delay, and now am in another terminal altogether. In each relocation, human herds move with, against, and askew me. At the last gate—where my flight and hope are finally terminated—I encounter my co-disappointee, the aged bodybuilder. He stands at one point, and an even older fellow-traveler slips behind him and takes his seat. I expect frustration to boil over. But, although startled someone has taken his seat, the muscled man returns only a kind nod and sense of satisfaction that a stranger now enjoys a moment of rest.
The only plans that matter are the plans God has for us to love people. I wish I had made it to Nashville so I could have shown my grandkids how much I love them. I will soon. But I also wish I had spent several hours in the airport caring as much about the people herding around me as I had about the plans slipping past my control.
A new day, a new opportunity to love people.
To a week seeing everything else put into perspective by our focus on the people God puts right in front of us.