Flight 370

A few weeks ago, I was over at my good friend Judy’s house to do some tweaking on the layout of my website. It seemed to me such a small thing, changing the heading font and color, because I make those changes in Microsoft Word documents all the time. However, in choosing an economical (as in free) website template, the design elements that can be customized are extremely limited. Unable to make peace with the boilerplate design, Judy offered to help me figure out if I could change the heading style. She is always so patient with my low level of anything high tech, not to mention my inability to make up my mind. Consequently, this small reworking job wound up taking us about two hours.

Judy is a dedicated homeschooling mother of two, an online paralegal student, and an ardent devotee of all things natural and homemade. Even though she would never allow me (or anything else for that matter) to interfere with these important responsibilities, I must admit that I did feel rather like I was stealing her time in order to work on what was, in all honesty, my trivial pursuit of perfection. It felt a wee bit like . . . theft.

As we worked away at our task, her two kiddos diligently worked at theirs. When daughter Heidi had completed her assignments, Judy suggested she do something enjoyable such as read a book as a reward for her hard work. Out of the corner of my eye, I glimpsed Heidi cheerfully plop down on the couch where I presumed she had stationed herself in a comfy reading spot. And there she settled, immersed in whatever it was she was immersed in, without so much as a peep. When Judy and I were just about done, she quietly arose from the couch and made a beeline over to me. Without saying a word, she stretched out her hand, opened her tightly clenched little fist, and presented promotionme with a stretchy bracelet of intricately woven, itty bitty yellow and lavender rubber bands the colors of Easter. That was what she had been doing on the couch — making a gift for The Thief. It was no small thing.

I have another small friend named Reece. Even though we don’t see each other very often, we like each other a lot. Guess you could say we have a mutual admiration society, Reece and I.

This past Christmas, I crocheted (that’s cro–shade for you non-crafty types) a small bracelet for Reece. I sneaked it to her grandma so that she could sneak it under Reece’s Christmas tree. Reece’s grandma and I are two very sneaky people.

Sometime shortly after that, Reece’s grandpa told me that she had loved the gift and had sent me a thank-you letter. Day after day nothing arrived, so I figured it was probably either under a sofa cushion or between the seats in her car or in some other spot that routinely swallows up good intentions. I stopped expecting it.

Wmailell, that letter finally arrived in my mailbox just a few days ago. But it didn’t arrive in the usual way. No no. This letter came sealed inside a clear plastic bag with the words “United States Postal Service” printed at the top, followed in large, bold letters by the words “WE CARE” and four paragraphs of regret.

I don’t know when the post office started using a buzz saw to process mail, but this envelope that had been so carefully stamped with pink, purple, and blue hearts and flowers was now a torn and tattered wad. On the bottom of the envelope, some kind-hearted postal service worker had attempted to Scotch tape the tear where Reece had written in big, blue letters “I Love Susan.” Inside the envelope, Reece had enclosed what had formerly been a small, foil-wrapped Andes chocolate mint. It occurred to me that the small gift she had so thoughtfully prepared for me was far bigger than the bracelet I had made for her. It was no small thing.

When I was a child, I went to the 1964 New York World’s Fair. I will never forget that THE big attraction of the entire fair was a musical boat ride called It’s a Small World. By today’s technological standards it would be comparable to Fred Flintstone’s foot-powered Stone Age car; but back then, sailing through islands of mechanized children clad in the costumes of various countries all singing in unison about world peace was magical.

It’s a small world after all
It’s a small world after all
It’s a small world after all
It’s a small, small world

(Great. Now I’ll have that stuck in my head all day.) Anyway, thinking about it reminded me of the countless times I’ve found myself saying, “It sure is a small world . . .”

I once bumped into the former boyfriend of a high school friend of mine from New York in a Boulder, Colorado shoe store. In the small community where I now live, turns out the owner of the local Christian bookstore grew up best friends with my husband’s cousin. And I don’t even know how many times I’ve been in an airport halfway across the country and run into someone I know.

Which makes it all the more startling to hear the recent news that a Boeing 777 jetliner with 239 people aboard en route from Malaysia to China has disappeared without a trace. How does a big plane like that just vanish into thin air in such a small world? It certainly is no small thing.

I guess when it comes right down to it, the significance of a thing is not a matter of size but of perspective.

There’s just something special about the simplicity, purity, and honesty of a child’s gift-giving. They have the remarkable yet unintentional ability to make small things seem sooo significant.

Take Heidi’s bracelet for example. Although having the freedom to spend her time on her own pursuits, she opted to unselfishly make a gift for me, the self-serving thief. What a picture of the grace and mercy of God! Me, the undeserving sinner, selfishly living for my own gratification and failing to be able to keep even the most basic of God’s commandments; and God, selflessly sacrificing His sinless Son Jesus Christ, trading His innocence for my guilt, His righteousness for my sin, His life for my life. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

And then there’s Reece’s letter. I was once just like that torn and tattered wad. I was stamped to the very core with sin and unable to do anything about it other than just cover it up with the worthless band-aids of good intentions and wishful thinking. But God, solely in an unmerited act of love, didn’t just patch up the old wrapper, but created an entirely new package by placing the gift of His Holy Spirit within me and stamping His name on me for all eternity. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:4-7). Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).

No small things, these gifts.

Well, as I reflect on the significance of these gifts, I can’t help but think of the 239 people aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. It was to be a simple six-hour flight following the usual air traffic route. Surely the passengers spent at least part of their flight time imagining what awaited them upon arrival at their destination: perhaps the joyous anticipation of a family reunion or the crushing weight of a family tragedy; a busy vacation itinerary or an important business meeting. But regardless of each one’s purpose for travel on that particular flight on that particular day, the thoughts of where they were headed surely didn’t include the consideration of a trip that could potentially end in one final breath that would launch them into eternity.

Would they have been prepared for the sudden, unexpected change of course? Would they have been prepared to face death if indeed the plane did crash as most are presuming to be the case? If they did perish, would they have been prepared for their final destination? And what would their final destination be — heaven or hell?

In the Bible, Jesus warns that we must Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:13-14). I wonder how many of those 239 passengers believed just like I once did: that a good God would never send anyone to hell; and even if He did, a fair God would only send the really really bad people there — the Adolf Hitlers and Osama bin Ladens and Ted Bundys of the world.

But the Bible says there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). All, as in you and me and every other human being on the planet. I am forever grateful that I found out that the God I had believed in was the made-up god of my own imagination, not the true God of the Bible — before it was too late.

Like it or not, admiairplane2t it or not, every single one of us sooner or later will be on his or her own Flight 370. We can never predict how our course may change and when our final destination will be, but we can know where it will be, for if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9). No small thing indeed.

How Deep the Father’s Love for Us

Listen to it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nR-N_Oh4uNg

 How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He would give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross
My guilt upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no powr’s, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

©1995 Kingsway’s Thankyou Music
Words and Music by Stuart Townend

Category: Hope, Salvation
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4 Responses
  1. Anonymous says:

    Good stuff Susan! Have you thought about writing a devotional book? I love blogs, but don’t get on a lot. I don’t even use a kindle–so if you would do a hard copy devotional just for me I would appreciate it. hahaha (jk about just for me) It might be something to think about. Maybe after you have written a year of blog posts submit them as a daily year devotional–Judy could help you market (then both of you could live off the royalties and your husbands wouldn’t have to work–you could tour the world speaking at conferences…)

    I am an entreprenuer, through and through!


  2. Tiffany says:

    I think my comment got lost because I am not seeing it appear. Bummer. I will rewrite it and hopefully you don’t somehow get two!

    I was saying…Have you considered writing a devotional book? Blogs are wonderful but I don’t get on much nor do I have a kindle ( so making a hard copy book for me is what I’m hinting at hahaha). It really might be something to consider.

    Maybe after a year of blogging, submit your blogs as a daily one year devotional. Judy could help you market…you both could live off your royalties…your husbands wouldn’t have to work…travel the world speaking at conferences..DREAM BIG I say!

    Seriously, it may be worth thinking about!


    • Unapologetically Susan says:

      Hi, Tiffany. I’m new at this blogging thing, so I apologize for not finding your comments sooner (I needed to change a setting). Thank-you for the encouragement. I’ve had a couple of other people make the same suggestion about putting the posts in book form, so perhaps it is something I should consider. I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one who prefers paper to a screen!
      P.S.–Wade gave your suggestion for his retirement ten thumbs up :)

  3. Kelli says:

    I enjoy reading your blog and peering into the thoughts of Unapologetically Susan. You and your husband are a joy to know and I look forward to reading more, learning more and growing thru your posts. God Bless You both!

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