Wednesday, February 17, 2010

traveling mercies

I just returned from a whirlwind trip to California. Mary Ellen, my mother-in-law, had triple bypass surgery on Tuesday, so I flew down to be with her and my father-in-law, Bob.

I always have adventures when I travel. I've come to expect it, and I was not disappointed on this trip. My early morning flight on Monday from Portland to San Francisco went as planned, but my connecting flight to Fresno was cancelled due to fog. When I went to rebook, I was told the next flight out wasn't until 6:30 that night--I had an 8 hour layover at the SF airport!

To make a long story short, I walked around the terminal for a bit, then felt prompted to go to my departure gate and ask if there was an earlier flight to Fresno. Lo and behold, there was a flight leaving in 1/2 hour, and somehow my name landed at the top of the stand-by list. 35 minutes later, I was seatbelted into 15A!

Several minutes later, the seat next to me was filled by a young man of African-American descent. He was quite chatty--in fact, we talked the entire 60+ minutes we were seatmates on the plane. His name was Jedediah, born and raised in Mississippi, he was in the Navy and returning from a stint in Japan. His daddy and grandaddy were preachers, he told me, and after he found out my husband was a pastor, he wondered out loud if God hadn't put us together on that plane for a reason. He had, he admitted, strayed a bit from the fold.

Jedediah followed me off the plane and I introduced him to my inlaws, who were waiting for me. When Bob, who'd served in the Navy, heard that Jed was a naval aircraft mechanic, the offer of dinner at the Cheesecake Factory was extended.

Jedediah enthusiastically accepted!

We had a wonderful evening of good food and fellowship. I can't remember the last time I was adressed as "ma'am." Jedediah talked about growing up in Mississippi, his work in the Navy, his marriage and life. And, not knowing what Jed had said to me earlier, my father-in-law made the comment that God had arranged our meeting and had a special purpose for Jed's life.
Jedediah looked at me, eyes wide, and then took another bite of cheesecake.

"Yes sir!" he said.

After we dropped Jedediah back off at the airport (on the drive there he asked to be adopted into the Strannigan clan!), Bob commented that meeting the young man had a very positive impact on his life.

"How so?" I asked.

"He restored my faith that there are still good people--young people who care about this country. I can't tell you how much that encouraged me."

And I was encouraged by the kindness extended by Greg's parents to this young man--on the eve of Mary's major heart surgery! But that's the kind of folks they are--always willing to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those He brings across their path.

BTW, Mary's surgery went well and she is resting up in ICU. Please pray for a speedy recovery.

And pray for Jedediah. Pray that he would embrace God's purpose for his life and continue to be a positive impact on those around him . . .