Sometimes Scripture comes alive in ways we never anticipate. One of my recent travel days became a real reminder of the following truth found in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9:
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed;
perplexed, but not in despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned…”
Entering the airport and approaching the check-in point, I surveyed the mass of people lined up by the carrier's desk. All waiting to board. All looking bored. The computers had gone down, and no one was going anywhere…fast. I knew in an instant that this would not be the best of all travel days. But I was determined to make this a good travel day, no matter how things seemed. About an hour in line and three new friends later, I stepped up to the now working kiosk and entered my information into the self check-in computer. No baggage to check in – simply give us our tickets and we're on our way!
Up the escalator I went, only to be met with yet another line. This time, boarding pass proofing and security line two-step. You know, I can scarce remember a time when I actually got through an airport without having to take off my shoes or show my most personal items to a security guard who really has no interest whether my beautification products meet the regulations or not.
Successfully through the extensive screening process, I was on my way, up another escalator and headed straight for the coffee kiosk. After all, a woman can only survive so long in the morning without a cup of joe . It will probably never cease to amaze me how supply really doesn't follow demand. Take morning coffee, for instance. Millions of dining, convenience store, and coffee shop locations have a steaming pot of coffee waiting for a weary traveler or self professed “non-morning person” yet the price of coffee fluctuates and changes more than a six-year-old's mile-long Christmas list.
The “cute” factor of our coffee drives the price of what we drink right through the roof, and when deciding which cup we'll spring for, some questions that run through our minds include:
* What kind of cup does it get served in?
* How cute is the establishment, not to mention the barista?
* Did the coffee shop think up really trendy names for the drink selections?
* How about those drink sizes – do they make sense, or are they just bizarre enough to seem like they are worth the price tag?
* What kind of music serenades us as the machines steam, sputter, moan and brew?
* More importantly, can we buy the soundtrack of the day along with our caramel macchiato?
These are the things that drive our perceived need for snobby coffee. Don't think for a minute that I'm immune from the temptation, no, the absolute need, for a perfectly burnt bean tasting cup of coffee from our favorite “star for five bucks”. Whether iced in the summer months or piping hot in the middle of winter, my latte veins run deep.
But at 6 am in the morning, with my internal system set on pause until the coffee hits my daily play button, I just wanted caffeine. This particular morning, my fuel came from the cheap pump - the “87” grade of the coffee world. The bare minimum that would keep this fine-tuned machine running. The culinary presentation of choice? A non-fancy, plain white Styrofoam cup surrounding straight-up roasted beans brewed in a jiffy and served out of the airport snack bar coffee machine. It was coffee. And it was good.
I was perplexed, but not in despair…
Well, the sip or two that I actually got to drink was good. You know when the coffee is just too hot to endure, and you keep blowing on the surface trying to get the heat down enough so that the roasted bean goodness doesn't roast your tongue as well? That was this experience, and by the time the elixir was the right temperature, we were ready to board the plane. A quick gulp and an intentional flick of my wrist, and the coffee I so desperately wanted to drink was careening toward its utter doom in the fate set for it…resting for a moment on the top of the heap, only to be buried beneath layers of everyone else's last minute eliminations in the gate's trash can. At that moment, all I was concerned with was boarding that plane. Like the verse…
I may have felt persecuted, but I was not about to be abandoned!
I mourned over my caffeine loss, if only for a moment, as I grabbed my boarding pass out of the top pocket of my tote bag and headed for the next line of my morning. Inch by inch, the path to my flight shortened. Step by step I got closer to the seat I would call home…for the next hour. I have to admit, I was really ready to pour into my seat and see if I could remember what sleep felt like. I was daydreaming of a little déjà vu', and with that, the hopes of a little nap were dancing in my head like sugarplums dance in bedtime stories on Christmas Eve. No such luck.
After quickly shoving my bag underneath the seat in front of me, shuffling over to my window seat, sitting down, and buckling my clanky, bulky belt, he walked down the aisle. A man of such monumental proportions, I knew that through my luck of the day, he would wind up sitting right beside me. Oh, how I was absolutely correct. Drat. He bent his back slightly, began to contort his body enough to get into the seat as he mumbled under his breath, “get ready for being crowded for awhile.” Oh dear. He was talking to me! The one who was forced to endure the morning on a sip of Styrofoam laden coffee was now the seat buddy with a mammoth. A friendly mammoth, but a mammoth none the less.
I felt hard pressed on every side; but not crushed…
This moment fit right in with the rest of my morning, especially since I usually book an aisle seat in order to avoid such squishedness on a plane. This time, I was forced to sit by the window, or sit in the last row…what I like to call the row of last resort. Not only are you in the black hole of the back of the plane, but it takes twenty to thirty minutes to get all the kids, grammas, businessmen, and families disembarked before you see the light of day. No thanks, I'll take the window seat, I thought as I booked the tickets two weeks prior. That thought came racing back through my mind as I looked at this sweet man next to me, his arms and legs folded like an origami swan across his rotund anchor of a trunk. Needless to say, his “half” of the two-seater became more like three fourths. I was stuck pressed up against the wall of the plane, trying to look out the window and act like I was fully comfortable in my new found shrunken space.
Before we hit the friendly skies, I was begging deep within my spirit to be let out of my metal cage of a space. Aside from the spatial relations, I really found him to be quite delightful. We talked a bit, and dealt with the situation quite well. As the plane began its descent, I thanked the Lord for the soon coming freedom. With the touchdown of the wheels and the rushing force of landing the plane, we were gathering out belongings and heading to the door.
Arriving at my destination, I found the freedom of the terminal walkways a joy. The steaming, perfectly brewed and sweet syrupy coffee out of an overpriced yet delightfully trendy cup became the most perfect thing I'd known all day. And, I reflected on the day's events…even when hard pressed, we are not always crushed. We may be perplexed, but there is no need for despair. When we feel like life is giving us a touch of persecution, we can trust that the plane won't necessarily abandon us at the gate.