He’s not a slight or spry fellow, by any means, and he’s sweating profusely.
Hat askew, crumpled, and breathing hard from his sprint to the gate, Milt from PA stumbles down the aisle, catches my gaze, and pleasantly folds his very large frame into the middle seat for our three-and-a-half hour flight to Austin.
It’s weird, but something in my heart shifts, as if to ready itself.
It’s just a few minutes after take-off before Milt from PA is unapologetically leaning over my shoulder to read the notes on my computer screen. I’m preparing thoughts for an upcoming meeting and he asks in his friendly outdoor voice if I’m a Sunday School teacher.
And our divine appointment begins.
Did I mention that he was slightly deaf? I note this tidbit so you’ll realize our entire conversation will be broadcast in rather high volume to the whole back third of the plane.
This normally wouldn’t be such a big deal, really, except for the subject that the LORD decided to toss in the ring for us that day: the church and gay marriage.
Oh. Did it just get a little warmer in here?
Speech is one of the marks that separates us from all other animals. Our language, both verbal and non-verbal, is a window to our souls, and a door to relationship with all others.
Often, it is the difficult stumbles of wrapping my words around my inner thoughts that cements what I do in fact really believe. Parroting our parents, our pastors, or our political party sounds as silly as, well, a parrot.
What is it we believe?
Saints, we are too quiet. Our doors are safely shut and our shades drawn. How will the world see your soul without trying to put your heart into words? How can we be salt, or light, or love if we do not humble ourselves enough to try to humbly, humbly speak?
There are many reasons I might need to remain silent, but if I call myself a child of the Almighty God, staying silent from fear of man (or all humanity in rows 24-40) should not be one of them.
Today’s public conversation about so-called gay marriage is good practice for using our words; for taking stock of our own faith in these times. Do you know God’s whole story, his character, his passion, his mission? Does the WORD dwell richly in you, flow out of you? Do you hold contempt in you? Do you look for God’s spirit in the day-to-day encounters and events?
You need not be a scholar or a priest to humbly speak God’s truth boldly. The bible is overflowing with examples of the weak and the young, the flawed, uneducated, the barren and even the mute all being used by God in what he is busy doing in the world.
God’s mission for the world does not depend on us (thank heavens), but it does include us. This is utterly amazing. There is not a person that we encounter that is not as loved by God as we are. If we remember this, we can’t screw up!
The good news of the gospel has changed everything.
Saints, we are free! Not to live as we please, celebrate sin, or bury our heads in the sand. But we are free to open the soul’s door wide so that Milt from PA, and apparently all the poor Southwest passengers on Flight 126, might know the true hope that is in us.
Joy in all your encounters today! May your words bless those you meet.