Whenever I fly, I try to get seats near the front of the airplane since I am prone to motion sickness. When I made reservations for a recent flight to visit my family, an internet site booked me on two different airlines, only allowing me to choose seats for the return trip. Even then, the first available seat was in Row 24 on the leg from Tucson to Chicago, a three and a half hour long flight.
Three days before I left, I discovered I could select seats directly on the airline website. To my dismay, the closest available seats on the first flight were in the tenth row. I also discovered that airlines now charge for “preferred seating,” all of which are in the front of the airplane. On my second leg of my trip, all the “free” seats were taken. So I didn’t select any seats, figuring I would take what the airline assigned me.
I felt anxious, then angry. First the airlines want to charge for food, then for checked luggage; now they want to charge extra for the best seats regardless of someone’s needs. If all the free seats were taken, would they force me to pay an extra $40 for my seat? Hadn’t I paid enough for my ticket? Hadn’t someone taught the airline industry about grace and compassion? I held imaginary conversions with a ticket agent, angrily expressing how wrong they were to charge extra for seats.
Then the thought came to me. God is bigger than the rules and regulations of an airline. Why didn’t I pray about my need for seating near the front? What was wrong with me anyway? Didn’t I used to pray for that “small stuff” years ago?
So I prayed. I prayed that God would provide my needs – either provide me with better seating or calm my finicky stomach. Most of all, I prayed He would give me a seat mate that I could share the grace of Christ.
When I checked in for my second flight, my boarding pass automatically assigned me a seat – 4A! I couldn’t get much better than that without going into first class. But God wasn’t done yet. When I boarded my first flight in the tenth row, a woman holding a baby approached me. “Could my sister switch seats with you so we can sit together and she can help me with the baby?”
“If it’s all right with the flight attendant, I’d be glad to,” I said. The seat I traded to? Row 8.
God was still not done. When I arrived at the airport in Tucson to check in, long lines gave me the impression it was going to be a packed flight. I prayed again, asking God for His grace. Then I asked the ticket agent if there was any way I could move forward since I was prone to motion sickness.
“No problem,” she replied. “Aisle or window seat?” She put me in Row 8! Moreover, my seat mate, an art museum curator, was traveling back to her home country of Finland. We had a delightful visit.
God does care about the little stuff. HIs seemingly small gifts of grace show me how much He delights in me and cares about my needs. I just need to show Him through prayer that I’m depending on Him to do what is best for me.