The circus flies to Chicago

Published 10:50 pm Friday, February 24, 2012

By Chris Surber

Traveling with small children on an airplane is something akin to intentionally placing upright tacks in one’s seat just prior to a long road trip in a car — almost tolerable but strangely annoying. This goes two-fold when they are your kids.

I knew we were in for it as we awaited our connecting flight in Charlotte, on our way to Chicago, when my 6-year-old son, having overheard a wailing newborn, said to his mother “I sure hope that baby is on our flight, Mom. I love babies!”

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It begin with my 1-year-old daughter playing the lap-seat shuffle between Mom and Dad and progressed to my 4-year-old dipping a torn fingernail in his Sprite as an apparent preschool-aged remedy and declaring “It still hurts, Dad!” Seconds later, the lap-seat shuffle led to a spilled Sprite all over Mom.

Just about the time I was ready to ask the flight attendant for a seat on the wing for the children, I remembered my own words from a sermon I had spoken from my own mouth only a handful of hours earlier, “Patience and gentleness are the pathways to peace, joy and true success in Kingdom of God terms.”

Public embarrassment is one of the many ways that God works on our pride. There are few things that remind a person of their own inability to control a situation more than being strapped in an airplane with your own family ragamuffin circus on display for the airplane audience to see.

Of course, this is pretty light fare compared to the way that God did the same thing in the life of the Apostle Paul. He was beaten and left for dead, imprisoned, and much more for the cause of preaching to people about Jesus all through the then known world.

Speaking of what his suffering produced in him, he wrote, “And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:2b-4 NIV84)

When trials come our way, whether they are as serious as the Apostle Paul’s or as silly as the story I have shared with you, God — if we will bring our questions, our pain, our embarrassment, whatever, to Him — will use it in us as a means of making us more into the person that He longs for us to be.