Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.
What's in a number?
In my case, 38 rows and a bag of pretzels.
It was the last seat available on the plane.
Needing to get home, I took it.
I knew it was near the back.
What I didn't realize was that in the case of a water landing
I would be the last to get wet.
Not only was it the last row,
it was the seat next to the window.
Row 38 has as its claim to fame
having LESS leg and head room than all the other seats.
With the lavatory just behind the seat,
38F needed to be compressed by several inches.
The frame of the lavatory jutted outward over my head
taking even more precious overhead space.
Getting into the seat took more precise moves than open heart surgery.
I am not claustrophobic per say,
but there is a reason I have chosen to be cremated rather than buried.
Alright, I am claustrophobic.
38F was my worst nightmare.
As I wedged into my seat,
I had only one prayer .....
(okay, 2 if you count the plane not crashing)
that there be no coughers/sneezers near me.
Prayer 1 was not to be answered in the way I wished.
The sneezer was quickly located in row 36.
This was not a good sign as the air vents
(which were only a foot away from my face)
were blowing hot, stuffy air into the cabin.
I was in an incubator and I was the incubatee.
Actually, I have three airplane players.
prayer #3........... no crying babies please.
It is often said, "God only gives you what you can handle....."
Then consider myself a baby handler.
She was the last one onto the plane.
Flight attendants were scrambling
to get her and her histrionic infant to seat 38E.
The baby was not happy.
Neither was anyone in rows 30 through 38, particularly me.
Lullabies might have had a chance to soothe this child
but not when accompanied by jet rockets.
I could hear one last sneeze over the din of the baby's screams.
At that moment,
I would have given anything for a pair of earplugs and air mask.
Everytime the baby would begin to quiet,
she would be awakened by someone opening the lavatory door.
This happened on average every 62 seconds.
Let me say, there is nothing quite like the antiseptic smell
of an airborne toilet mixed in with hot stuffy air.
By the time we reached 36,000 feet in altitude,
the mother tried to walk her.
When you are in row 38, your walk to the rear is 3 feet.
Eventually the child calmed.
The same could not be said for the sneezer.
Meanwhile, the flight attendant was working her way back
with drinks and snacks.
I desperately wished to get up and stretch my legs
which had lost blood flow since 15,000 feet.
But that meant disrupting a now quiet child.
I opted for silence over ambulatory movement.
Numbness began to set in.
Much like Tom Hanks focusing on the volleyball for survival in the movie "Castaway,"
I created an inner place of hope by focusing on the bag of peanuts
that I was soon to receive.
I love peanuts.
I also love to to eat in general.
That hadn't happened before takeoff.
If I hadn't been sitting directly above a turbo jet engine,
you could have heard my stomach growling.
My dream died at row 36
as I heard the attendant tell the sneezer,
"I'm sorry, we're out of peanuts. Would you like some pretzels?"
I consider myself a strong person,
but even I have my limits.
My spirit cracked like an empty peanut shell.
I heard rumors that in first class rows 1-5
they had received peanut parfaits.
It was the last straw.
That's when the mother in 38E and I began to talk.
She told me how her husband found out
while she was pregnant that he had cancer.
She was just returning from visiting with her parents.
While the prognosis was not good,
they still had hope that he would survive.
my fear of catching a cold,
my numb legs,
the smell of the lavatory,
my tired ears,
and my hungry stomach
didn't seem to matter so much.
Annoyances are small things.
Facing widowhood with a newborn child is not small.
I offered to pray with her.
Suddenly 38F didn't seem so bad.
First class seat 1A is a far different experience than coach seat 38F
My life experience is far different than my friend in 38E.
I don't know what the outcome will be for her.
I have known for a long time that life isn't fair.
And I have also begun to learn that perhaps God isn't fair.
If God was fair, then He would hold us accountable for our sin.
He lovingly forgives us
and gives us a far better promise of eternity than we deserve.
Perhaps life and God is not about fairness,
but about trust.
Trust that God is bigger than life,
and that no matter what we face,
God will love us into where we need to go.
Maybe your day is filled with unfair circumstances.
But for those who trust in a loving God,
He promises to lead His children through any adversities
to a place where love triumphs.
And that, my friend, is far better than peanuts.
Now pass the Nyquil. I feel a cold coming on.
For the mountains may be removed
and the hills may shake,
but my lovingkindness will not be removed from you,
and My covenant of peace will not be shaken,"
says the Lord God who has compassion on you.