Just a few days ago I was flying home from a conference in Dallas. The leadership team I was traveling with had a short layover in Denver. (Yes, Denver is further from Ohio than Dallas—the lowest fare is rarely the shortest route.)
I had just purchased a pricey decaf Americano from the airport Starbucks when I heard my name being paged over the intercom system. Now I, along with millions of other Americans, have read Joel Osteens mega-seller, Your Best Life Now. You might recall one story he recounts in it. Joel says that he, like me, was sitting in an airport when his name was paged. He began “believing” that God wanted to bless him. He went up to the ticket counter and was informed that due to lack of space on the flight he had been moved to first class. As I continued to listen to my own name being paged, I began to have visions of being moved to a more comfortable seat, all the cranberry juice and coffee I could drink being served in real china and no pretzel snack for me–something hot and delicious. I would enjoy flying home in first class . . . until I remembered that Frontier Airlines doesn’t have first class seating.
I strolled over to the ticket counter “believing” that nothing good could be waiting for me. The smiling attendant explained that a young family was traveling with an infant and would like to sit together. The only way he could make that happen was to move me from my aisle seat into a middle seat. Now, I fly quite a bit and one of my cardinal rules is to always sit in an aisle seat. So, the thought of a two and a half hour flight home cramped into a seat between two other travelers was not my “best life now.”
The attendant, still smiling gratuitously, further encouraged me by explaining that I would be able to sit next to one of the others traveling with me from our leadership team. I asked, “And how is that a benefit?” I had just spent the past seventy-two hours with these guys. All I wanted was a quiet, conversationless flight home. “Oh, and we’ll give you a free drink!” “Yipee-kay-yea.”
“Now, tell me again why I would want to move from the aisle seat that I chose to a cramped middle seat?” “So that this young family can sit together with their baby.” The young family was standing right beside me listening to this entire interaction. “No problem,” I said, I would be happy to change seats.” I smiled at the young family and returned to my leadership team.
One of the guys quickly asked, “So what was that all about.” “I was upgraded from an aisle seat to a middle seat.” We all started to laugh. “The really good news is that one of you had an empty seat next to you and now I’m in it.” They stopped laughing as they checked their tickets to see who was the lucky one.
I tell you this story because the Apostle Paul instructs us “to give thanks in every circumstance.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) And sometimes those circumstances may very well be in the midst of “your worst life now.”
My guess would be that this Thanksgiving holiday will find a few of us in very enjoyable, love-filled atmospheres. But I would also venture that many, many more people will find themselves in situations in which it is challenging to give thanks.
I want to encourage you, no matter your circumstances, to take a look at what good you can find around you . . . and give thanks.
By the way, I was able to trade that free drink for free satellite television. Far more importantly, a family was able to sit together. And for that I am thankful.