“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed… so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body.” Philippians 1:20
The little airfield affectionately referred to as “Kokomo International” is hardly the bustling hub of a major metropolis. But it was my best option for getting to Grand Rapids, where I was slated to speak at a conference later that morning.
One thing you need to know about this airport is that the ticket taker, the baggage handler, and the air traffic controller all happen to be the same guy. So, when I arrived at the airport, I heartily greeted him and handed him my ticket and luggage, ready to hop on the little commuter plane. But I was given this unsettling news: “By the way,” he cautioned, “the clouds are pretty low today, and I’m not sure that we’re going to be able to get the plane in here to pick you up this morning.”
I could feel my stomach tighten. I quickly explained, with a measure of anxious urgency, “Look, I really need to get on that flight. I’m scheduled to speak to about a thousand people in Grand Rapids later this morning, so you’ve just got to get that plane down here!”
In the next few minutes I heard the plane approaching above the clouds. The ticket taker now became the air traffic controller and I heard the pilot say over the squawk box. “The ceiling is really low. I’m not sure that we’re going to be able to land today.”
My voice got more desperate as I urged the ticket taker/baggage handler/air traffic controller, “Tell him he has to land. I need to get to Grand Rapids!”
The engines faded and then grew louder as the pilot tried one more pass. Then he came on the radio again. “Sorry, we’re on our way to South Bend.”
Now the stress meter was registering in the danger zone, and with desperation and an edge in my now-raised voice I asked, “What am I supposed to do now? How am I supposed to get to Grand Rapids?”
He said, “You’re a minister aren’t you?” I forgot that the name on my ticket read Rev. Joseph M. Stowell.
“Well, um . . . yes,” was my sheepish reply, to which he calmly responded, “Then God will take care of you.”
In that moment I remembered that a friend in our church—a private pilot—had offered me a free flight whenever I needed it. A quick phone call had him on his way to the airport. I met him at the hangar, and I was on my way to Grand Rapids. God provided, even in the midst of my lack of faith.
To my shame I had missed an opportunity to magnify Christ as Paul expressed in his letter to the Philippians. Paul’s expectation was for Jesus to be exalted in the way he lived—no matter what, no matter where. My expectation was far different. My expectation was to get to Grand Rapids, not to glorify Jesus.
I’ve wished a thousand times that I could go back and do it over again, I wish that I had said to the ticket taker/baggage handler/air traffic controller, “I hope you can get that plane down, but in reality my life is in the Lord’s hands. He’s never failed me yet!” What a neat ending it would have been, to have affirmed my testimony by telling him about how God provided as I raced out of the terminal to meet my private pilot!
Today, find ways to magnify Christ regardless of what circumstances you find yourself in. That’s an expectation you can control!
- Perhaps you can think of a similar experience when you blew it in terms of exalting Christ. If you could do it over again, what would you do differently?
- How do things like selfishness and distrust affect your commitment to exalt Christ? What other sinful attitudes might be a hindrance to your exaltation of Him?
- What difficult situation in your life right now might be an opportunity for Christ’s glory to be displayed?