Last week, I attended the memorial service of Chuck Miller, friend and colleague of mine with The Leadership Institute. Anyone who knew Chuck knew him for his ability to turn any moment into a lesson that would draw us into further dependence on Jesus. It’s Chuck that brought home the lesson of Pitcher / Cup, Saucer / Plate, the idea that we must first remember that we are God’s people before we go and do His work (see an article I co-wrote about this very topic utilizing Chuck’s metaphor).
It would be an understatement to say that the events around my attending of Chuck’s service would be a training ground for this very concept. I had hoped to fly into southern California for the service and fly back to northern California that night. I’ve done a quick turnaround trip like that before, so why not again? I left my home in the wee hours of the morning for one of Sacramento’s first flights into Orange County’s Santa Ana Airport.
Arrival. A quick breakfast. And news that my flight home was cancelled.
Options were standby on very full flights out of other LA airports that night or flying confirmed out of Orange County the next morning. Confirmed is better than standby, particularly when you could extend your car rental an extra day. Even more so when your parents were excited to have you over for dinner, and you could catch up with your grandma, aunt and uncle who were coming, too. A perfect reminder that I am a person of God before I go do His work, enjoying meaningful conversations with those whom I love.
The next morning, in preparing to get to the airport, I heard that my flight was delayed yet another 3 hours.
Another pot of coffee made.
And more unhurried interaction with my parents. Sitting and talking just the three of us as we are often unable to do so. Finally on my flight, a fellow passenger and I agreed that the delays God gives us are opportunities to look for what He is doing and calling us to.
Driving home, my phone alerted me to one more delay, a 90-minute traffic jam. The I-5 corridor between Sacramento to the Redding area where I live had flooded the little town of Willows, nearly shutting down both northbound and southbound sides of the highway.
Yet this slowing provided opportunities to get out of the car and meet the man in front of me from Lodoga (real place) or the woman trying to get to Chico (thanks, lady, for the piece of gum!), and to enjoy the surreal scenes of almond groves flooded with water (pictured, above) and rice paddies all green with beautiful blue sky. As I was stuck there in my car, it was yet another reminder—a retreat—that I am God’s person before I am His agent.
While not at first glance, my two days of travel really was a retreat. A time of interacting with the people and the Person I love, of slowing down, and of taking time to remember what is and who are really important. Of remembering that even in our own plans, it’s the Lord Who directs them (Proverbs 16:9).
Thanks, Chuck, for the reminder, and for the life you lived with this mindset always at the forefront.