Milling about the airport gift shop, T-shirt purchase in hand, James and I discuss the best approach for lunch. Surely the Charlotte airport would have better choices. We meander through security. Nothing like killing time in the airport. “I’m dying. Let’s split a snack to hold us over,” I suggest. The bagel place looks pretty good. “Let’s get rid of our bag and then choose,” James says as he walks on. We have an hour to spare. It’s 2:50 p.m. According to the information I recorded in my phone, we are in great shape. Passing the arrival/departure screens, something compels me to check the departure status of our flight. Destination city Charlotte. Found it. U.S. Airways. Yep, there it is. Departure time: on time for 2:50 p.m. “2:50 p.m.?!?!?!” I question out loud. Run! There’s the gate. Less than 100 feet. “Are we too late?” I ask with bated breath. “We’re way past departure, ma’am. It’s a good thing we’re running a few minutes late!” Too frazzled to feel embarrassed quite yet, we head down the tube. Whew! That was close. Thank you, Lord! That had to be a work of the Holy Spirit that made me check that screen. Thank you for heading off a serious marriage encounter of the most uncomfortable kind. We step on the plane. Our seats are reassigned. So much for slipping on unnoticed! Hiding behind the partition at the front door, we wait while the flight attendants reorder passengers. Hiding my fluster, I settle our bags beneath the seat in front. I look up pensively, making sure the sparkle in my eye communicates my playful need for mercy. I give James the “Isn’t this funny, honey?” look. I get a different look in return. “Baby, we have got to do something about you checking your information!”
I’d love to say this is the first time something like this has happened. Memories of another very similar travel fluke flood my mind. It’s Hawaii three years ago. Killing time before our nine-hour return flight, I happen to call on the status of our flight. Panic strikes. There is no flight number matching the one I have. “What do you mean there’s no flight with that number? It’s the one on my confirmation!” I counter. The airline reorders our travel to get us home, a significant feat for six travelers, but not before my husband reaches the farthest edge of patience. After a 5 a.m. layover in Los Angeles, and another several hours later in Dallas, we finally make it home. Exhausted, everyone heads to bed. That evening, as I unpack my carry on, I stumble upon a silly little email in my travel file for our trip. It was from the airline months before our trip alerting me of the flight change for the return leg of our journey. The realization of what I’d done still registers in the size of my eyes and the flutter in my belly! Crossroads. Do I continue to let James believe it’s all the airline’s fault, or do I confess? When I tell you I had no recollection of that email, I am telling you the truth. My brain works like that. I’m a list and sticky note kind of gal. Once I write something down, I don’t have to keep it in my brain anymore, so I don’t. James, on the other hand, keeps everything in his head. It would simply get too crowded up there for me! Consequently, I released all memory of that darn email once I printed and filed it. The problem is, the email got buried behind some other papers, and I never looked that carefully at my file. The confession went smoother than I thought it would. I think it’s the “Isn’t that funny, honey?” look that does it every time.
Sitting on the plane we almost missed Tuesday, the lesson sinks in. Yes, I need to check and double check my information. I think about its application to my walk with God. First Thessalonians 5:21 says to “examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good” (NASB). Colossians 2:8 says, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ” (NASB). Test everything against the word of God to see if it is truth. I assumed the information in my phone was correct. I never checked the original source: the confirmation email for our flight. Assumptions can be very dangerous. The way to protect ourselves and escape precarious situations is to go to the source.
Second Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Correction stands out to me. Correct information. The truth versus a lie. Speaking of the last days, 2 Timothy 3:13 tells us, “Evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” These are dangerous times, and if we don’t read and study the Bible for ourselves, we won’t be able to recognize the lies. The imposters. And that’s a most dangerous place. We must be able to discern between true and false prophets. True and false teachings. The truth about ourselves and who we are in Christ. The security of our eternal inheritance. The forgiveness of our sins, past, present, and future. Our best defense against deception is truth, especially when it comes to the word of God. We can’t just take someone else’s word for it. We’ve got to dig in and find out what it says for ourselves. All of it. We must know Truth to recognize the Liar.
Many of us grew up with certain beliefs, things we were taught and simply accepted as truth. Growing up, I picked up the belief that what God started in the spirit when He saved me by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, I had to maintain through personal effort and performance. Since I chose to put my faith in Jesus, it stood to reason that my continued choices would put me in good or poor standing with Him. His favor and blessings, I subconsciously resolved, were dependent on my ability to please Him in some way. When my failures overwhelmed my good performance, and those days were and are many, I shied away from God. I couldn’t even imagine how in the world He could keep loving me. It was a path of continual disappointment and deflated hope. You probably would never have known it by looking at me, but inside, I had a lot of doubts.
My 2011 trials exhumed my doubts and thrust me into God’s word for truth. For myself. To see it and absorb it and apply it because God spoke directly to my heart through His word. I believe one of the most critical things the Holy Spirit did was bring me to a place where I was willing to be shown where I was wrong. That’s difficult with long-held beliefs. It’s uncomfortable, but I believe it’s the only way to know the truth. I prayed that God would show me His truth straight from His word, not from any man’s teaching, so I would know it was Him. I asked Him to show me where I was deceived. And He is faithful. If you ask, He will answer. He unveiled His grace. And its ramifications. That God exerted His holy influence on me to turn me to Christ, and He exerts His holy influence on me to keep me in Christ. Since He saved me and gave me the faith to respond, I had nothing to do with it. And so why in the world would my efforts be required now to maintain my salvation? What a relief! That’s what truth does. It sets us free.
Do you have beliefs you’ve simply accepted because it’s what you’ve been taught all your life? Do you know that you know that you know what the word of God says? Do you have questions you’d like answered? Do you seek guarantees? Scripture is full of them! Do you have areas in which you need the truth to set you free? My friend, get in the word. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you through the scriptures you read and study, to give you understanding of what it means and what He wants you to do with it. If you read it and don’t understand it, ask for help. He hears. It’s one of His guarantees.
So I’ll check and double check. God’s word and our travel itineraries. Just in case. And I’ll thank God for His unending mercy when I fail at due diligence and end up in a pickle, like Tuesday, flying home. And I thank Him for James, and his patient endurance with fifteen years of marriage to a young woman who had and has a lot to learn. Happy Anniversary, baby. I fall more in love with you every day. And that’s the truth.
May His grace draw you to His truth in all things today as together we become wholly His.