Gate 4 was packed with travelers sprawled across almost every seat. A child cried furiously in his weary mom’s arms. Two men argued about a business associate while three kids played chase around the seats. The tone was tense.
I sat amid these fellow travelers and, as I glanced around this little pocket of humanity, I prayed for God to set up a divine appointment. Someone who may need a listening ear or bit of encouragement. It’s been a little game I play with God whenever I take a flight.
I scanned the room; I noticed a middle-aged man who looked surprisingly like my younger brother. His arms folded tightly across his chest and headphones clamped firmly over his ears gave a clear cue that he would not be chatting on this flight. But then, he seemed so…shut down? frustrated? My thoughts floated up to God…Is this my divine appointment?
Boarding commenced. As I waited my turn in line, I thought of a dear family member for whom I had been praying for many years. Lines are great places to pray. I lifted him, once again, to God but added; Lord, I’m getting weary of praying about this. Are you still listening?
I step onto the plane and head toward my seat when I see “headphone man” again. His arms are still crossed, and his countenance is glum as ever. But, as God would have it, he is seated directly across the aisle from me! I attempt a warm smile and quick hello as I slide into my seat and buckle up. He nods sullenly and claps on his noise-canceling device. Headphone man turns away from the aisle and sleeps, snoring loudly, for the duration of the flight.
We land and I have given up on any conversation, divine or otherwise. Shuffling off the plane, I feel deflated that my “divine appointment” was canceled. Did I have it wrong? Or, like the persistent yet unanswered prayer for my family member, was God not listening?
At the baggage claim, I spy my fast-approaching bag and step up to snag it. Hefting it off the belt, I turn and literally bump into, you guessed it, headphone man!
“Whoops! Sorry,” I stammered. “Hope you have a good day.”
Realizing he probably couldn’t hear me through the earphones, I shrug and step around him.
“Wait.” His voice barely audible. I turn to face him.
He pulls the headphones down and looks directly at me, an embarrassed flush creeping across his face.
“Um, I never do this, and you may think I’m crazy, but God has been pestering me since before we left the gate to tell you something…honestly, I’m not a psycho, I’m just learning to listen to the Holy Spirit and trying to do what He says. I know it seems nuts, but I really need to share what He asked me to tell you. Okay?”
My heart skips a beat as I realize the Lord has thrown a plot twist into our divine appointment game.
“Wow! Please share!” I stammer, “I know God too!”
Visibly relieved, headphone man lets out a breath, nervously clears his throat, and whispers, “God impressed me to tell you: That for which you have been praying is closer than you think.”
He turns to leave as if he has simply given me directions to Starbucks then turns back with a mischievous grin.
“Oh yeah, and this too: I am always listening, my daughter.”
Awestruck. I lift my gaze heavenward and smile.
“Well played, Lord. Well played!”
Do you ever wonder if God is listening to you? When we struggle with knowing whether God hears us, we can rest assured that He does. If you want to know more about what it means to listen or talk to God, check out our God, Do You Hear Me? sermon series based on Pastor Derwin L. Gray’s book.
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