Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Redeeming a "Southwest Airlines Moment"

I love Southwest Airlines and I love their commercials. You know the ones when someone says or does something really awkward and the announcer comes on and says, “Do you want to leave the country?” I am the king of those kinds of moments in our family. I don’t know what it is, but I have a special talent for saying awkward things at times and these moments become part of our family lore.

For instance, I was ordering a coffee from a “pregnant” barista one time and I noticed that she was about seven months pregnant. Wanting to strike up a conversation I said, “So, when are you due?” Her steely eyes pierced right through me and she replied, without a smile, “I’m not pregnant.” I didn’t know what to say. We shared an awkward silence and I kept waiting to be let off the hook but no such luck. I grabbed my coffee and slunk back into my seat at the movie theatre and vowed to never, ever, ever, ever assume someone is pregnant…even if she is dilated 10 centimeters and starting to push! No more assumptions on my part. I had learned my lesson—for life.

So flash forward to this Fathers Day. I was driving with Holly and my two nieces, Maddie and Sydnie, to a church Fathers Day worship service at Tolt-MacDonald Park in Carnation. As we drove towards the park I cashed in my Fathers Day privilege and asked Holly to buy me a coffee at a coffee stand on the way.

As we drove, I asked if I could pray for the day, for the service, etc., but as we drove up to the coffee stand Holly said, “Put the prayer on pause.” We approached the barista and encountered a somewhat cheerful college student as we ordered the coffee. While waiting for my drip coffee, just making conversation, I asked, “So, did you call your dad today?” She just looked back at me like a deer caught in a headlight and said, “My father died about a year ago.”

Holly gave me the look that said, “You did it again, dad. Awkward!” But being the veteran of awkward, Southwest Airline moments, I asked her name. She told us her name and I said, “(Her name) we were just praying before we drove up here. We are going to pray for you, that you will have God’s peace and comfort today in a special way.” She looked back and I could feel the awkwardness dissipate and she said, “Thank you.” And we were back on the road again and, of course, we prayed for this young woman who had lost her father at too early of an age.

Why do I share this story? Hurting people surround us and we will step into awkward moments like this if we choose to engage with them. One of the things I am learning on my journey is the idea of being “radically abandoned to God and radically available to people.” This moment was redeemed because we were in an attitude of prayer before we met this young woman and it was completely natural to simply incorporate the unexpected situation into our ongoing prayer. As we did this we experienced God gloriously at work in this quite ordinary (and a tad awkward) moment.

Not Wanting to Leave The Country Quite Yet,


Note: Do you have any stories of God’s Glory showing up in the ordinary? I would love to hear them and share them with a larger audience if you would like! Just email me at (

If you are receiving this and would like to receive my blog, “Glory In The Ordinary” sent to your email about 2-3 times a month on the theme of seeing God in the “ordinariness” of everyday life just email me at ( and I would be happy to have you join me on this journey.

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