Tonight my flight into Atlanta just felt snake-bit. Out on the tarmac, waiting for the tower to give us the go-ahead, the plane's nose instead turned back toward the gate.
This blog is about getting wrecked in a good way, but you can get wrecked in a bad way too. Tonight my attitude was in danger – too many planes and airports these days. What happens when your ordinary becomes so uncomfortable that you become a poor version of the real you? What happens when life is just grinding you down? Over time you feel the stress of life wearing you out. You find yourself more negative and grouchy. And you realize: "This is no way to live."
"There are thunderstorms in Atlanta," the pilot informed us.
We sat there indecisively for a while. Eventually they opened the door and unloaded us so passengers could be re-routed to other airports or spend the night at local hotels.
I chose to stick it out.
The Harrisburg airport was shutting down. The kiosks and shops were closing as they informed us that they'd discovered a fuel leak and that the maintenance crew would take an hour just to get to the airport.
Still, eight of us passengers, plus the two pilots and a flight attendant grimly waited.
At last we re-boarded. But then we learned that there was new paperwork that needed to be filed. No heat in the plane and we sat there for another half an hour. At one point the pilot walked through the cabin and threw blankets on our laps for us to wrap up in.
I've learned to be complacent in situations like this. Nothing you can do, so you just ride it out.
But it's the sort of situation that, when added to other hardships, can wreck people, or at least their attitudes, all the time. Experience this kind of discomfort enough and you can start to numb yourself. We've all been through seasons in life where we've been in survival mode.
We were made for more. Jesus promised us abundant life, but it can feel like a life of scarcity instead. And our calluses can begin to define us. Live there long enough and your hope turn cold. And it's in that place that you need another kind of wrecking. You need the ordinary grind to get shattered.
Our plane is approaching Atlanta as I type these words. I'm tired, but I'm not mad at the world. In a broader context, this flight is just a little part of a big adventure that is anything but ordinary.
As we waited in Harrisburg, I spoke with the young man next to me. He wanted to be a missionary pilot. He asked me where I'd lived as a missionary. I told him Indonesia and the Dominican Republic. Turns out he was Dominican and had lived in Indonesia. He'd attended the same school my wife, Karen, had taught at. His dad is an expert in malaria for the CDC and he wants to connect us.
Not an ordinary conversation. Not an ordinary day. But I've been wrecked for both. It's a good thing to be on mission with God as you journey through life. Two questions: What's your mission? It's worth asking – is the grind of living obscuring it or revealing it?
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We're going to start exploring what wrecks people and helps them to start living the life God intended over on Wrecked later this week.