Sunday, August 24, 2008

 

On the Road Again . . .

Okay, okay, I'm not much of a Willie Nelson fan (but as a side note here is a funny Willie story--one day Willie Nelson was passing through McLennan County near Waco, TX, when he decided to stop by the side of the road to sleep. Unfortunately for him, doing that is illegal. A police officer came by and stopped to check out the car and driver. When Willie let his window down, his marijuana smoke billowed out. The officer later said he didn't know whether to arrest him or to ask for his autograph, so he did both. Seems that Willie didn't know that marijuana was illegal in Texas either! Oh well).

Now, where was I? Oh yeah, I'm not much of a fan of Willie Nelson (c'mon Leo, stay focused), but this song does adequately portray my current situation. I am in Atlanta (yes, again), and I am waiting to return to Lynchburg and my family. I sit here in Terminal C waiting for Delta to order me on the plane, and I can't help but watch people as they walk by.

There is the young mother trying to convince her toddler son that he must quit playing and get on the plane.

There is the young couple obviously too much in love (get a room, will ya?).

There are several soldiers boarding flights to various destinations of service (or maybe home).

There are the two young men who just sat down opposite of me with wool caps and hoodies on, yet wearing short pant. Does anyone get this fashion trend? Are their heads cold while their legs are warm? They are both relatively unshaven, look like they would be more comfortable under a bridge than in an airport terminal, and they stare into space while speaking nonchalantly into their blue tooth phones (is the plural blue teeth or blue tooths? Why do I care?). Seriously, they look like someone you would meet at a Salvation Army rescue mission, but they have all this expensive technology and such.

Of course, I'm the geek seminary prof sitting here in my red LBTS t-shirt while reading the latest Superman comic I picked up last week, so who am I to judge?

Last week I wrote about travel, and today it is still on my mind. Have you ever gotten to the place where you are fed up? You know, you don't feel well, your head hurts, your back hurts, you feel like you are in a fog, and you just want to sit down and cry?

Well, this weekend I have been there. In that spot. See it?

I marvel at the stories of the apostle Paul and his travels. How the heck did he do it? Did they have beverage or meal services on his missionary trips? Did his back ever hurt? Did he ever just want to go home?

Okay, enough whining. Some observations: No matter where you go people are essentially the same. They are all concerned with taking care of their families, being with their friends, and making a life while trying to make a living. These past three days I have encountered a cornucopia of such people.

There was the waitress at Red Robin the other day (by the way, I wasn't impressed with "gourmet" hamburgers--they were more expensive but not necessarily all the much better than Five Guys. Your mileage may vary). Anyway, this young lady was obviously having a rough day when I was seated in her booth. She looked over worked, and it took her a long time to come take my order. Of course, it didn't help matters much that I promptly dumped my root beer over (glass number 2, if you are counting!). She sighed noticeably and came to my aid.

I kidded with her as she cleaned up my mess on the floor, and I worked on using napkins to stem the tide on my table. I said, "Well, I usually have one of my kids do that for me, but I guess I miss them on this trip."

She laughed just a bit, so I took that as an opening. "You know, life sometimes seems like a series of mishaps and spills that almost never end. Yet, in most cases there is someone with a mop or a handful of napkins to clean up the spill. I am so thankful for that help."

She smiled again, and asked why I was in Atlanta. I was teaching a class on the New Testament, so I told her that. I added: "You know, I've lost count of the number of times my life has spun out of control only to have God drop by and clean up my mess. He sure has been good to me."

She shrugged and kept mopping, so I said, "Can I pray for you?" She really didn't say much, but her attitude seemed to lighten a bit. She joked with me, and at the end of the meal, she thanked me for making her day "better."

I'm kinda glad I spilled my root beer.

One more story and I'll go get on my plane. I was sitting in the lobby of the hotel on Friday writing some notes and reading my Greek New Testament (and my comics!). A man walked by and said, "I don't usually see a person reading the Greek New Testament and comics!" I laughed and introduced myself. Turns out this fellow is a United Methodist pastor who almost walked out of the hotel. He said that the Lord prompted him to come to the lobby to meet someone, and there I was. We talked about his ministry, about Liberty, and most importantly, about the Lord. He was an angel in disguise, I think, because he did for me what I would later in the same day do for the waitress. His kindness and concern lifted my spirit and gave me energy.

Isn't life funny like that? Just when you want to quit, God often comes in and gives you a reason to keep going.

I don't feel well, while I was in Atlanta my dog (a good pet for almost 13 years) died, my family grieved without me, and I am tired to the bone. I wonder who God is sending my way today?

I'll let you know!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

 

Ramblings from a Fellow Traveler

Well, here I am at the Atlanta airport again! It doesn't seem like too long ago that a certain seminary president and I were stuck in this magic wonderland (yeah, that's sarcasm in case you didn't get it). I'm sitting here in the food court of Terminal E, listening to some pianist try to make a few bucks by offering her renditions of popular favorites while some drunk at the bar tries to accompany her in song.

I wish I could be home now.

I mean, I don't mind the travel, but sometimes I just miss the familiarity of my home: family, friends, my big red lounge chair, my sleep comfort bed, and especially my wife and children.

After a day or so away, I always find myself longing to return to them, to return home.

I know, I know--"Home is where your heart is," or "Home is where you make it" or even "Home is where you hang your hat." However you define it, nothing quite fits like feeling "at home."

Lately I've noticed another longing in my heart, the longing for a place that I've never visited, where friends and family are that I have not seen in a long time. Sometimes I've caught myself looking up at the stars and thinking, "What's it like for my loved ones who have gone 'home'?"

Okay, she's playing "Love Song" now . . . if I could bring a gun into the airport, I might put it to my temple at this point!

Ugh!

Did I tell you I want to come home?

I stayed in a nice Hampton Inn in Atlanta. Great bed, great pillows, wonderful people to help with directions, good food, access to the Internet, etc. But . . .

It ain't home.

I've been thinking too much lately. Sometimes I get a bit melancholy when I think. My dad passed away four years ago around the first week of August. Years before he died his illness robbed him of vitality and verve. My dad was not himself. I'd go to visit him, he wasn't himself. He is now, he is finally "home."

Now the piano is playing some piece of classical music. I think I'm gonna have to move soon.

Where is Starbucks when I need some coffee?

Okay, let's try to be more positive--I'm positive I need coffee.

There, I feel much better.

I heard a preacher on the radio today. He wasn't bad, but I honestly can't remember what he said. I think he was speaking about marriage. I remember that he mentioned George Beasley-Murray, my former seminary professor. Isn't odd what we remember sometimes?

Friday I was running late for the class I was supposed to teach. I drove following new directions I'd never used before in a rented car. You know what I remember the most? I remember the guy in traffic ahead of me apparently pitching a fit because traffic was backed up due to construction. I'm sure he got where he needed to go, but I wonder why I remember that? Of all the stimuli smacking my brain at that time, why do I remember him?

I guess I should be glad I remember things.

Well, I've rambled enough. I have to say that it was an uneventful weekend, but I had an uncanny sense of God being there. Everywhere I turned, I sensed his protection and his kindness. It was a good weekend.

She's playing the theme from "Butch Cassidy" now. If she starts with "Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head" I may scream.

I'm going to find Starbucks. I'm going to have the most caffiene I can get for my money. I'm going to find a kiosk, plug in my computer, read Captain America, and get happy again.

Believe it or not, someone looking a lot like Jerry Lawler just walked by, I think I'll ask for his autograph.

Holy Crap! She's playing "Leaving on a Jet Plane"! My cliche-o-meter is going off the charts.

I will start humming my new favorite praise song (thanks Juan)--"Kill me, kill me, kill me Jesus."

Okay, off to Starbucks. Thanks for reading!

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