I boarded the plane for the last leg of my journey, excited to be done with a long day of traveling. Settling into my seat in the middle of the very last row of the plane, I eyed everyone coming down the aisle toward the back–which one was to be my seat-mate?
People trickled in and the seats filled up. Every seat on the plane was full. Before the doors of the airplane ever closed, I was already getting a little annoyed with a handful of the people in my general vicinity.
The seats directly in front of me were filled with two men who were buddies, and a girl who was merely assigned to the seat next to them.
The men were vulgar, crass, inappropriate to the girls around them, and generally just difficult to be around. A few exchanged glances with some of the people nearby confirmed that I was not the only one a little apprehensive about how this flight would be.
We taxied, took off, and headed for home. During the duration of the flight, these chaps drank a little too much and it only served enhanced their previous behaviour. I was getting more upset as time went by–specifically because of how they were treating the girl next to them, for the language that they were spilling all over plane, and just their general lack of dignity and manliness in general.
By the time we were descending, they were in full swing and one of them in particular had had enough to drink on the flight that he lost a good portion of it. All over the floor, himself, my bag, and the girl next to him.
I’ll just fast-forward here, and say that a good portion of the people who de-boarded that plane were pretty upset about everything that had happened on the whole flight. In an empty concourse on the way to the baggage claim, I had a run-in with the men which was of a nature that only made me (and them) more upset about the whole situation.
Tears spilled over as I called Dad and asked him to meet me at the top of the stairs rather than just waiting in the car–I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of being alone at the baggage claim with these guys who were now drunk and specifically upset at me (because of the previous run-in).
I’ve left out some details, but I wanted to give enough information for the rest of my post to make sense.
That night as I lay in bed, I was still crying and shaking with indignation at all that had happened. I was so upset, I couldn’t even think straight. I didn’t know what to think. I knew I needed to pray and take it to the Lord, but I didn’t even know how.
In the quietness of the middle of the night, the Lord spoke to me. Not verbally with words that I could hear, but softly to the deepest places of my heart.
“Oh, Jesus. I can’t. How do I love people like that? I know You do, but . . . they were so revolting! I can’t. I don’t want to.” The last words are a stab to my heart to even remember.
Then it struck me as never before. Their sin is not any more revolting in the eyes of the Lord than mine.
Somehow, I have had a gradient for sin. I didn’t think I did. I thought I loved people. I thought I desired for even the worst of the worst to know Jesus. But, then I was faced with a situation which made my flesh rise up so strongly–I did not love with the heart of Christ. I did not want to love.
Jesus loves. He is love. When we bear the name of Christ and live in Him and He in us, how can we not love?
The behaviour of such men is not to be loved or commended, but how can I despise a living soul who must one day face the judgement seat of Christ–possibly to be damned to everlasting hellfire? It was once I who was in such a position before the Lord–loved but lost. Participating in revolting sin. Dead even while I lived.
Jesus, forgive me! I, in my sin, am not somehow better or less despicable than those men because of so-called “lesser sins”. There is no such thing.
Grip the hearts of those men, Lord. Teach me to love. To forgive. Fill me with the fullness of who You are!