I couldn’t believe I was really boarding a plane headed for Vero Beach, Florida. All my life I had been talking about meeting a lifelong friend to see our beloved Dodgers in their spring training home—Dodgertown!
I was telling the Lord how thankful I was to be finding my seat on the overcrowded plane when I saw a man sitting in my window seat.
“Sir, I’m in 27A.”
“I know, would you mind switching seats with me. My son and I are headed to spring training and he’s afraid to sit alone.”
“No problem,” I assured him. And I really meant, “No problem”—that is until he told me that his assigned seat was a middle seat.
I argued with the Lord about what to do. I knew it was the right thing to do and I even wanted to. But a middle seat?
“You enjoy the ride with your son. I’ll take the middle seat.”
As I fought back up the aisle for my miserable middle seat I couldn’t help thinking about the fact that the man and his son were Red Sox fans. I hate the Red Sox!
When two beefy guys piled in on both sides and I felt like I couldn’t breathe, the Lord brought Esther’s story to mind.
When Mordecai challenged Esther to risk her life by going before the King of Persia to expose Haman’s evil plot to kill all the Jews, he put her rise to queen in perspective: “Who can say but that God has brought you into the palace for just such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)
We should always be looking for the spiritual and eternal reason God has ordered our lives in the way He has. He is never surprised, never overwhelmed, never without purpose. His hand is the one that moves historic world events and the “smaller” events and circumstances of our lives—like sitting in a middle seat.
All of the noble and eternal reasons God wanted me to sit in the middle seat ran through my mind. Maybe I would have an opportunity to lead one of my portly row-mates to Christ. Maybe I would see this man and his son at the Dodgers-Red Sox game tomorrow and they would ask me why I was so nice. I’d then have an opportunity to tell them that I’m a Christian and causing them to think about the kindness of God’s people.
For almost three hours the guys on both sides fell asleep and leaned their massive body weights in on me so that I could barely move. One of them snored loudly in a way that made me happy that they don’t serve meals on planes any more.
When we walked off the plane in West Palm Beach, the father never even said, thanks.
My point? Most of the time we will never connect the dots of the difficult assignments the Lord asks us to take in His name to His eternal purposes.
If we’re telling Jesus that we’ll do the hard things only when He makes it clear why we should, He’ll just start handing out the really significant assignments to His more willing and trusting followers.
So, what is your middle seat? What are you telling God you won’t do unless He guarantees that it all makes sense?
Only those willing to sit in the middle seat when they don’t know why will discover the joy of His intimate guidance.