Monday, September 25, 2017

"Lightning Struck Twice"

Isaiah 19.20 NASB  

“And it will become a sign and a witness to the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the Lord because of oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Champion, and He will deliver them.” 

Stranded in Las Vegas! I had enjoyed a two day real estate seminar with about 900 other attendees, but I was ready to go home. We were to depart at 7:55 p.m., about the same time a severe thunderstorm moved into the city. At 8:30 our flight was cancelled because the plane had been struck by lightening. The aircraft would remain grounded until it could be checked out. Our next departure time would be midnight.

All would-be passengers groaned collectively and loudly. About four hours later our next plane arrived and offloaded its passengers. We were tired but eager to board and get home. The thunderstorm had since moved away from Las Vegas but unfortunately into the direct path of our incoming airplane. Over the loudspeaker one hundred and forty tired ticket holders heard, “I’m sorry folks, but this plane was also hit by lightening. We will try to find each of you a room in Vegas because none of you can fly out until sometime tomorrow.” I thought the guy was joking.

What are the odds of two planes getting struck by lightning in Las Vegas? Apparently, not bad. It’s common for commercial aircraft in thunderstorms to experience lightning hits. They are properly grounded and can sustain the strike, continue to fly, and land just fine. The damage is usually minimal but safety precautions must be taken. We weren’t leaving Las Vegas anytime soon.

I felt sorry for the guy with the microphone at the terminal gate. His first announcement was met with unhappiness. His second earned open hostility. There was lots of finger pointing and demands for unreasonable forms of compensation. The disappointed passengers unconsciously formed a mob and began figuratively ‘shooting the messenger.’ The line for food, hotel, and shuttle vouchers was another hour-long wait. We recollected our baggage, waited for a shuttle, and checked in at the hotel. I did not get to bed until 2:00 a.m., 8 hours after arriving at the airport. We were traveling backwards! 

My business associates and I were well behaved, taking circumstances beyond our control well in stride. But we witnessed flared tempers and poor attitudes from other passengers. We kept our distance from this unruly ‘mob.’ I was irritated by the angry ticket holders. “They don’t deserve to fly home,” I thought to myself.  

Isaiah’s message was unusual not because he promised God would send a “Savior and a Champion.” That God would “deliver” was no great surprise to Israel. It was who He would deliver that shocked the prophet’s audience. Isaiah prophesied that enemies like Egypt and Assyria “will return to the Lord, and He will respond to them and heal them” (Isaiah 19.22). How could this be? Egypt did not deserve the mercy of God. 

I felt judgmental toward the airport ‘mob’ and their selfish actions. What right did they have to abuse the airline employee? Did they want to fly on an unsafe plane? Did they think the guy with the mic caused the lightning, made the policies, or could pilot the aircraft himself? Did they not see (like I did) that this situation was outside of everyone’s control and that no amount of whining would change that? These self-centered people did not deserve a flight home. Like ancient Israel, I did not think they should have a “Savior” or “Champion.”

The ‘mob’ had a bad attitude toward the airline employee. I had a bad attitude toward ‘mob.’ What’s the difference? Not much. Isaiah taught that God loves us all and would send His Son to be everyone’s “Savior and Champion.” If I, like the people of Israel, expect God to be selective about those whom He will deliver, why am I not surprised by His choice of me? Why am I less surprised by His love for me than for others?

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