The Man Next to Me

I wonder if he even remembers me, but he sure did his part so that I would remember him.
It was 8:30 in the morning and I had just boarded the airplane. I was exhausted.
I had gotten back into the United States earlier that morning, arriving in Flordia around midnight. By the time I had gotten to the hotel and fallen asleep, it was nearly 2AM. Asleep for only four hours, I was woken up again at 6 to head back to the airport to return home.

So there I was, sitting in the somewhat comfy seat, receiving a blanket and pillow from the friendly flight attendant. The seat next to me remained open... I always wonder who will sit next to me. A man? A woman? Young? Old? Quiet? Extrovert?
As I watched many file in through the thin aisle, he finally came to my row. He was a middle aged man, certainly the business type. Suit and tie.

"This should be interesting..." I thought to myself.
He sat down and seemed relatively quiet. We exchanged some smalltalk and what happened next, I wouldn't have expected.

For the next two hours of the plane ride he talked up a storm. From books, to China, to why George W. Bush was a bad president, why suburbs led to obesity and isolation, and why I should probably change my window panes. This man was a riot. I felt disrespectful for not having much to say, though truthfully his knowledge was out of my league and made keeping my eyes open even more difficult.

I wasn't terribly fond of the man. He didn't have the most respectful attitude towards the mission trip that I was returning from. But hey, he was an environmentalist and didn't like the idea of 400 people flying planes to another country when we could just send money and have people there do the work. Yet there he was sitting on a fairly large sized plane, ironically.

While most of the conversation remains a blur to me, there is one specific moment in the conversation I remember. He told me that in all of life, I should always remember two things: Proximity and Ultimately.

He told the story of a family member who was satisfied with their job in proximity, but ultimately, it wasn't quite what they wanted. He told me that no matter what I do in life, make sure it is ultimately satisfying and worth all my time and efforts.

How many things in life feel satisfying in proximity but ultimately add up to nothing?

How many things do we do in our every day life that aren't really worth our time, worth our life, worth our thoughts, worth our money, worth our breath to speak of, worth space in our heart?

Consider what is important in your life right now. At the end of your life, do you think you will look back and say "That is what really made a difference in my life, in others' life, in the world!" Especially for the sake of God and His glory.

Dear Christian out there,
Do you value time? Do you really value time?
Like everything else, time belongs to our Lord.
That means you're borrowing something of His.
How do you take care of something you've borrowed?

Certainly the gentleman I sat next to wasn't necessarily the most pleasant person to converse with, but he sure got me thinking. And any person who can make me truly think, deserves some respect.
I am thankful that even on that long, tiring morning, God provided someone that didn't know Him to help me know Himself better.

"Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."
Ephesians 5:15-16

P.S. Happy early Thanksgiving! :)

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