Placed in The Right Spot

“He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:3)

God has a way of orchestrating a new song even when our hearing is cluttered with noise. That’s just how He is, ready to dumbfound us with the creation of a new chapter in our stories. Sometimes that new creation is resembling of the plot twist of a suspenseful novel or a tear-jerking love story. With our nearsighted vision we miss the signs, stumbling along the path, until suddenly there is a clearing, a clear moment of revelation and discovery.

And so it was on the second of my three flights as I head back to Colorado Springs from Ohio, the plane that would take me from Charlotte to Dallas situated in Seat 20A. My boarding group was 7 out of 9, always a mystery to me since I would be plopping down in the seat by the window. An older African-American couple was already in B and C as I finally made my way down the aisle pathway. I apologized for having to make them get up so I could scoot in. They didn’t mind so we took a few moments to get ourselves settled and resettled.

It didn’t take us long to start chatting. I told the lady, the rose between two thorns if you will, to nudge me if I started snoring, and the fact that I’d arisen at 4 AM to go to Tri-State Airport in Huntington, West Virginia. It broke the ice, so to speak, and we started gabbing about life. I told her that I had flown back to Huntington to surprise my sister for her 70th birthday, and then I asked if they lived in Dallas. She replied, “No, we live in Charlotte.”

“Going to visit family in Dallas?”

“Going back for our daughter’s funeral.”

Such words came out unexpected to my hearing. “Oh, I’m so sorry!” I paused, searching for the next words to say. “Was it unexpected?”

“Cancer. Three years, and then the Lord took her home.”

“Having a child go before you, that’s not how it’s suppose to be.”

“Yes, but she blessed a lot of lives and now she’s in the Lord’s hands.”

“Almost three years to the day I was on a plane back to Huntington for my dad’s last day before he passed.”

“How old was he?”

“Four months shy of 90.”

“Isn’t that something? My dad passed three last spring three months shy of his ninetieth!

“What is your daughter’s name?” She whispered her name through the veil of her face mask and I didn’t quite understand what she said so I said, “I’m sorry. What was it?”

She pointed to the front of her face mask. It had a picture of her daughter and her name. “Scooter. We called her Scooter.”

“I’ll be praying for you as you celebrate her life and grieve her loss.”

“Her life was a testimony for the Lord, and we know she is rejoicing in His glory.”

“For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” I said, quoting my favorite verse from Paul’s letter to the Philippians. We talked some more about Scooter and the memories. I found out that the lady had been a special education teacher and would be subbing for those amazing kids when she returned to Charlotte. I told her about my wife working with the same set of students and how she taught pre-school deaf kids when she got out of college. We marveled at God putting me in the seat beside her, the first and last time we would meet this side of Glory, to taught about life, death, and hope in the midst of death.

As they rose from their seats to exit the plane, I reiterated that I’d be praying for them as they gathered with Scooter’s friends and husband the next day and then escorted her remains back to Charlotte. She looked at me, grasped my hand, and said, “And may the Lord bless you!”

Sometimes God puts you in the seat next to the window not to look out, but to listen to the one sitting on your right.

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