A middle seat on a recent airline flight teaches me something about God’s work in the realm of the human heart.
[Darris McNeely] A few days ago, I was on a cross-country flight. We thought, my wife and I, as we were dashing through the airport, that we were going to miss the connecting flight to the West Coast. And the gate, we thought, would be closed. But as we got to the gate, it was still open. I ran up to the counter. I said, “Can I still get on the plane?” He said, “Yup.” He said, “If you’ve got a ticket, get on there, we’re about to close it.” They’d already given my seat away to someone on standby. So as my wife and I were going down the aisle of the airplane, I saw the first seat – I said, “You take this one, I’ll go back here.” My seat turned out to be the middle of three seats. It’s a typical arrangement in some of these airplanes, you’ll know about. So I plopped myself down in the middle seat. And two people were on either side of me. And just as the plane was closing up and they were taking off, I looked to the person to my right, and it was a young lady that had tattoos all over her and body piercings all over her face. And she looked rather interesting, to put it mildly. But as I looked to her and started to say hi, she just kind of edged over – basically, “Don’t invade my space,” kept looking straight ahead, didn’t want to engage. So I said, okay. I thought to myself that way. I turned to the left, a gentleman sitting next to me. I said, “How’re you doing?” He turned to me and he said, “I just got news this morning that my thirty-one-year-old daughter died. I’ve got to go out now to take care of her funeral arrangements.”
The plane’s ascending 35,000 feet. What do you say? What do you do? I couldn’t believe the tragedy and the sorrow that was all over the man’s face as he began to tell me about his daughter and what he had been awakened to that morning. She died tragically, unexpectedly, from what would be considered a routine situation that it seems, possibly, was mishandled, sent home too early, something happened, and she died. And so instead of getting ready for her first grade class as a teacher this year, her father was going home to bury her.
You know, two people. Two different attitudes. I spent pretty much the whole time on that flight talking to this gentleman and just hearing his story, sharing a personal story that was going through my life at that time, as well, and just listening to him. What do you say? I told him I was a minister and had been there with a lot of other people in his particular situation through the years. And as we parted, as the plane landed, I could only wish him Godspeed and say, “God be with you, my friend,” and pray that God’s grace would comfort him with the burden that he had to bear up under and what he had to take care of that day and the subsequent time.
You know, when you look at people – and here I was, thrown into the middle seat of an airplane, two different types of people, two different reactions at that moment as to where people were and what was going on in their life – one was kind of hard. The other, his heart was a bit more open, at least, to talking to another human being, where the other person didn’t want to and with the array on her face and on her skin – something else going on. I wish her well, certainly don’t wish her evil, but she didn’t want to engage at that time. But maybe a little bit of a lesson in life about a heart, and having an approach that is open, vulnerable, and can be taught and can be reached.
When I look at this concept that I’ve been talking about, of the “fellowship of the heart”, and I try to understand exactly what it is God is doing, where God is working, I go back to a scripture in the book of Jeremiah – and I started this series here and with Jeremiah 17:9 Jeremiah 17:9The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
American King James Version×, but let’s conclude it with what is said in Jeremiah 31:33 Jeremiah 31:33But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, said the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
American King James Version×. A well-known scripture that is also quoted in Hebrews chapter 8 in the New Testament to describe the relationship God has with those whom He calls, who repent, who seek to change their heart, to change their life, and to be led by His holy spirit, and seek a different relationship with Him (Hebrews 8:1-13 Hebrews 8:1-13 1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; 2 A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. 3 For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: why it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. 4 For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: 5 Who serve to the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, said he, that you make all things according to the pattern showed to you in the mount. 6 But now has he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. 8 For finding fault with them, he said, Behold, the days come, said the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: 9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, said the Lord. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, said the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. 13 In that he said, A new covenant, he has made the first old. Now that which decays and waxes old is ready to vanish away.
American King James Version×). Jeremiah 31:33 Jeremiah 31:33But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, said the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
American King James Version×says that, “‘This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ says the Lord.” So it’s God speaking. He says, “‘I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts.’” I will put My law in their minds and write it – the law – on their heart. The fellowship of the heart. “‘And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’”
Where’s God working today? What is God’s uppermost work and desire, perhaps, as He works with His called, His chosen, with those who are faithful? It’s writing – putting His law in your minds and writing it upon the heart, through experience, through our reading of the Bible, through us drawing to God in a close relationship that actually begins to change the thoughts, the attitudes of our mind, and our heart as we look toward about God, as we look toward one another and changing our relationships there.
I had this amazing experience on an airplane. A random experience in two different peoples, kind of representing the two different aspects of what I’m talking about here – a heart that didn’t want to be reached at that moment, and then a heart that was reaching out and looking for some understanding, looking for some hope.
Wherever you find yourself at this particular time, I hope that your heart is open toward God, to where He could begin a relationship with you as you choose to take that step toward Him and the calling and the relationship that He is building. Because if we do, then we enter into this fellowship of the heart and into the greatest, most important work that God is concerned with at this particular point in time, with those who are his called, chosen, and faithful. So where do you fall on that? Something for you to think about in your relationship with God, and with your fellow man.
That’s BT Daily . Join us next time.