High-Flying Mission

There was a magnificent lightening storm below us as we flew West.

My flying MO has changed. I used to carry a huge book and try to disappear behind it on every flight, but since I’ve been preparing for my book launch, I’m that stressed-out-looking business-y woman constantly adjusting her laptop screen as the guy in front of her moves his seat back up and down. (Yes, I need a tablet. But I need to get a paycheck first. 😉 )

I too-often fly between Denver and Nashville; that usually means over 2 hours of nothing to do but work. Not last night.

When the flights are full–and they usually are–typing is challenging. So yesterday when a smallish 10-year-old took the seat between David and me, I was a bit relieved thinking I’d have some elbow room. He had all sorts of electronics. He immediately started searching for WiFi and looked set to entertain himself for the full flight.

Yes, I thought, I’m going to finish writing these two articles!

Nope.

He couldn’t make any of his gear work. He started moving all around, desperate for any distraction. He watched Big Bang Theory over David’s shoulder for a while even though he couldn’t hear it. When David switched the channel to golf, the boy looked over my shoulder and read my in-production post about ectopic pregnancies and feeling abandoned by God. (Yeah. That was appropriate reading for a 6th grader!)

Distraction. I need a distraction. Why aren’t I a mom? They are master distractors!

As usual, God took care of us. Outside the window was the biggest, longest lightning storm I have ever seen from a plane. Beyond the storm front was the most colorful sunset I’ve ever seen. I officially abandoned my writing and tapped his arm. “Look outside. Can you see the clouds?”

His response reminded me of 10-year-old me: “Wow! Can I take a video so I can show it to my science teacher tomorrow and get extra credit?” Of course!

It took him several tries to get it right. When he finished, I had the perfect question: “Is science your favorite subject?” And he took off.

Loved science. Hated English and writing. He noticed that I was writing about God. Was I a Christian? He was. His whole family was Catholic. That was good because his uncle just died, and he was flying home from his funeral. He loved his uncle. He loved fishing with him. That’s one of his favorite memories. His dad was really sad, and he was too. He didn’t know what to do when his dad cried, and he was scared to be flying up here when his dad was alone at the back of the plane. He was afraid he might get sick the way he gets sick in the car. He’d try not to get sick on my computer. And, hey, how come I could make the WiFi work?

That was it. I never got his name, and he pushed his way to the back of the plane as soon as we landed.

So this morning as I frantically opened my laptop to make up for the work time I had lost last night, it dawned on me: maybe I’ve ended up with some sort of plane ministry. If ever anyone sits between David and me, that person is a Chatty Cathy who needs to talk to someone. And that person always manages to bring up faith.

I need to stop being selfish and stop praying that God will leave the seat next to me empty. I always get my work done one way or another, and I’m always blessed by the time I get to spend comforting (or distracting!) a nervous traveler. It’s a funny way to serve God and man, but I’ll try to keep doing it.

Author: Amanda Hope Haley

Amanda Hope Haley is a lover of the Bible—its God, its words, and its history. She holds a master’s degree of theological studies in Hebrew Scripture and Interpretation from Harvard University, hosts The Red-Haired Archaeologist podcast, has ghostwritten for popular Christian authors, and contributed to The Voice Bible translation. Amanda and her husband, David, live in Tennessee with their always-entertaining basset hound, Copper.

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