I’m doing a lot of traveling right now. Actually for the past year or so, with the promotion and release of Facing The Giants (www.facingthegiants.com), several of us have been on the road for screenings, speaking engagements, etc. While it has been fun to meet folks from around the country, it is also very taxing on the body.
Air travel is no fun anymore. Planes feel more like cattle cars. It seems one out of one flights is running late. You have to take off half your clothes and empty your carry on before boarding. I’m not complaining (much). If it makes us safer, I’m willing to do it.
At my age and height, small planes give my back grief. I end up having to go to the chiropractor when I get home just so I can walk upright again. Lugging a computer, books and other stuff around doesn’t help the back either. I’m always on the look-out for the perfect piece of luggage to help me organize my chaos.
On a recent trip to west Texas, I took three flights to get there. The trip was great, the church was great, I loved the time with the pastor. Everything was cool–until I got to the airport to head home. This was going to be a quick two-day trip. I was going to stay and play golf, but I needed to get back and do some work, so I took the early flight out.
Big mistake. Let me just tell you briefly what the day looked like.
One–I got to the airport and they didn’t have me confirmed on the flight. I had my copy of the email from the airline, but they didn’t have it in their system. Two–All their flights into Houston were booked or cancelled because of a tropical depression moving through that morning. Three–I moved from being a passenger with a confirmed seat to a passenger on stand-by. I was so far down the list that I went to another airline and paid $500 to get a ticket going to Dallas, then Atlanta. I was just trying to figure out a way to get home.
At the last minute, I got on the original flight. We took off, but had to circle Houston until we almost ran out of fuel. Then we detoured to Dallas where we got fuel. We spent some time in Dallas, sitting on the plane, and finally took off. What should have been a one-hour flight to Houston turned into a four-and-a-half-hour flight.
When we landed in Houston, I immediately began to try to figure out what flight I could get on. I was on stand-by on two Atlanta flights, but I wasn’t going to be able to make my flight to Albany. Every passing minute, planes were backing up, sitting on the ground waiting for a break in the weather or either they were being cancelled altogether.
Finally I asked if they could get me anywhere east of the Mississippi River, somewhere closer to home. I was given a stand-by ticket to Mobile. My wife was there visiting her mom so I thought, “I can at least get to a familiar place.”
All this time, we couldn’t leave the gate area to get anything to eat or drink because they didn’t know when the plane might come in. The concourse area looked like a mall on the day after Thanksgiving, except no one was getting a bargain and most weren’t happy. Finally, after 10pm we got on a plane. Then we had to sit there and wait for fuel and water. I arrived in Mobile at midnight, thirteen and a half hours after I left Midland. I was tired, sleepy and stiff, but glad to be on the ground.
You are probably wondering what all this has to do with perspective. I’ll be honest and tell you that I was totally frustrated with the whole day, the airlines and stuff in general until about five o’clock that afternoon. That’s when a friend called to tell me that one of my pastor friends’ wife had just been killed in a car wreck. Suddenly without warning a young wife was gone. A husband was a widower, and three children no longer had a mom.
Most of us let little things get to us far too often. I am the king of being peeved about the little things. They drive me crazy. I complain too much. That day, I had a reality check. I got perspective.
Perspective? My wife was safe at her mom’s house. My girls were safe in Albany and Orlando. I was on the ground inside a building in the middle of a tropical depression. With that, I quit pacing, pulled out a book about C. S. Lewis and the Inklings and began to read. I took out my pen and wrote a few thoughts in my journal, and I thanked God for perspective.
© Michael Catt, 2007
Michael served as the President of the Large Church Roundtable, the Southern Baptist Convention as an IMB Trustee, President of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Preaching Conference, Vice President of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and President of the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference. He has spoken at conferences, colleges, seminaries, rallies, camps, NBA and college chapel services, well as The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. Michael is the recipient of The Martin Luther King Award, The MLK Unity Award, and a Georgia Senate Resolution in recognition of his work in the community and in racial reconciliation.
Michael and his wife, Terri, have two grown daughters, Erin and Hayley.