Last Updated on March 20, 2018

I really have to get better about recognizing that God will use anything, even frustrating inconveniences, for His purposes. I hate to admit it, but as a very frequent flyer one of my biggest pet peeves is having to sit in a middle seat on long flights. And yet God sure has a sense of humor in how he used that recently. Let me give you a little background …

For the past few years, I’ve received several speaking invitations from wonderful international family organizations that, sadly, I have been unable to accept. You see, most of these groups are ministries that simply don’t have the budget to fly me in. And since I have a staff to pay and my own ministry expenses to cover, I just haven’t been able to find even more money to cover the cost of flying internationally and accepting these pro-bono invitations. Yet the need in these countries is great and I’ve been longing for an opportunity to go share some of this life-changing research and bring encouragement to these wonderful people. So the last few years, I was asking God, “Please bring some opportunities that would be financially feasible.”

Only now do I realize that God answered that prayer based on that pet peeve I mentioned: scrunching into a middle seat on a crowded airplane.

Now I realize that sitting in the middle seat on a crowded airplane isn’t the worst inconvenience that can happen to a person. But as someone who travels a lot and has attained a high level of frequent flyer status, I’m spoiled. There, I said it. I’m used to getting great seats and even upgraded to first class. Which is particularly welcome after a long day (or days) of being on my feet and speaking all day. Ahhhh….

So after a particularly grueling cross-country trip, learning that a travel glitch had stuck me in a middle seat on the flight home did not make me a happy traveler.

Upon learning of my predicament, I tried everything I could to get another seat. I called the special help line for frequent fliers. I smiled at the beleaguered gate agent. I sought help from the folks in the airline club room. No dice. There were simply no other seats. So, grumbling a little, I made my way to the dreaded middle seat, resigned to the fact that I would have elbows poking me from both sides on the five hour coast-to-coast flight.

As I sat down, the man next to me (in the much more coveted seat!) turned to me and said, tentatively, “Shaunti?”

Startled, it took me a minute but … “Kevin?”

I was shocked to see that I was sitting next to someone I had worked with twelve years before.

He asked me what I was doing these days and I told him, and his eyes widened. “Really? I’ve just been working with a group in Mexico needing this exact type of thing. I think I’m going to ask them to bring you in!”

I smiled ruefully. “Well, unfortunately, I’ve gotten invitations before, but I usually can’t take them because they simply don’t have the budget to bring me in—“

“Oh that’s not a problem,” he interrupted. “They have budgeted for these programs. Travel, honorarium, everything. I think they would really like working with you.”

As you can imagine, I instantly started telling God I was sorry for my bad middle-seat attitude.

As it turned out, Kevin did recommend me to the Mexican group and indeed, they did bring me in.  I spent a week there this fall absolutely thrilled with the opportunity to be a part of the program they were building.

This situation reminds me yet again about how I’ve got to get my attitude in check whenever I see these kinds of inconveniences that affect every one of us. It is so easy to be blind to how God may be using any circumstance in our lives. So just maybe … maybe, I won’t grumble the next time I get put in a middle seat.

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One Comment

  1. Shaunti, what a great reminder of how God works in interesting ways. In my case He uses gianormous messes. One new friend told me, “If it weren’t for the messiness in your life, I would never believe you would understand me.” *Sigh*
    God always uses the unexpected. 🙂
    Thanks for the great post.