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The Three Spiritual Disciplines of Air Travel

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One of my favorite aspects of my job is the chance to travel often. I spend a decent amount of time on the road while still getting plenty of time at home with Holly and Caleb. It’s a perfect mixture.
Earlier this week, while losing my mind on a layover in St. Louis, I realized that air travel gives you a unique opportunity to practice some important spiritual disciplines that you don’t always experience on the ground.

Solitude

The FAA is now debating whether or not to allow cellphone use in flight and I hope they decide against it. It’s rare that I’m forced to turn off my cellphone and disconnect from the world for a few hours. In our busy, connected world, we forget that God often speaks in the silence (I Kings 19:12). Personally, unless I’m forced to do so, I don’t get alone very often and I definitely don’t turn off the distractions. Some of my best times with God have happened while sitting on a dark plane in the late evening hours while listening to the hum of the engines. In these moments where I’m sitting still and quiet, I enjoy some special times of prayer, study, and worship.

Meditation

I love an early morning flight or late evening takeoff. I’ve learned that those flights aren’t booked as full and it’s easy to snag a good window seat. In those cases, it’s also a great chance to worship. There is nothing like speeding into the sunset at 35,000 feet in the air. Looking out the window and gazing over entire cities reminds me of how small we truly are. Realizing that I’m still only seeing a fraction of the earth that is little more than a speck in the grand scape of the universe takes it a step farther. This meditation on creation and our Creator is a profound reminder of our significant insignificance.

Service

While I obviously still romanticize air travel, you can’t ignore that it’s also a stressful mess. Between getting felt up by TSA, waiting for delayed flights, and getting crammed into increasingly narrow seats, there are plenty of opportunities to lose your cool. I’ve learned that there is almost a ministry opportunity in just being the guy who isn’t perpetually ticked off. Aside from that, you get amazing opportunities to minister to those around you.

Several months ago, I enjoyed a great conversation with a gay guy whose boyfriend is a former Southern Baptist minister. He had been tremendously hurt by Christians in his life and opened up to me about the pain and struggles he has faced. I explained to him how Scripture views homosexuality, both as an act and as an orientation or lifestyle. I asked him about his boyfriend and his family and he told me their story. It ended up being a powerful time and I can only pray it gave him a more compassionate and accurate view of Christ and his church.

On Tuesday, I sat next to a woman from Philadelphia who, after getting divorced, lost her boyfriend to a sudden heart attack several years later. She was on her way to meet her grandchild for the first time in Fort Worth. We talked about our jobs, our families, and the plight of battered women in America.

How many opportunities in life do we really get to stop and share our hearts with complete strangers, knowing that the only alternative is a six-mile free-fall?

You may hate air travel but these spiritual disciplines are so important to our growth as Christians. If it means occasionally lifting off the ground for a few hours, it’s totally worth it. But even if you can’t, take some time to worship Christ in solitude this weekend and meditate on his faithfulness and his sovereignty. Then get out there and begin serving others around you.

Posted in: Worship

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