Jan the Flight Attendant

  • May 18, 2017
  • #9144

Waiting on the Lord with an open heart reveals unexpected opportunities to bless others.

Jan the Flight Attendant

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a short story about … waiting.

As you know well, I love to travel with Joni and Friends. My husband Ken and I so enjoy any trip that we can take on behalf of the ministry. Recently, I spoke at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and before that, we were up in Oregon where I was speaking at a large missions conference. That particular trip to the Northwest was pretty busy, not only with the conference, but giving messages at two different churches and a couple of events for Joni and Friends supporters. All this to say, by the time we left Oregon and flew home to Los Angeles, we were exhausted. I was hoping to rest a bit on the plane, but with my disability, that’s not always easy. When we arrived at LAX, it was well after 9 PM.

As customary, I wait for all the passengers to deplane, and after the plane empties out, I continue to wait for the baggage handlers to bring up my wheelchair to the jetway. Fifteen minutes of waiting turned into a half hour as there was a delay in finding my wheelchair. It was pushing 9:45 in the evening. Things like this have happened before, actually, many times. But sitting on the empty plane, I knew that when you wait patiently—whether on the Lord or for a wheelchair—God always has a blessing in store.

That night on that empty plane, near 10:00, it was Jan, the flight attendant who was assigned to stay onboard with me (that’s standard policy for most airlines). Now at first, I felt very badly for Jan. I was certain this poor flight attendant was just as tired as I was. But I soon discovered that Jan (that was her name), Jan was a buoyant, happy follower of Jesus, and she recognized me. She looked at me closely and said, “You know, I think I saw your movie back in 1979 when she was a teenager.” So, for the next 45 minutes, until my chair finally arrived, Jan and I relished in the faithfulness of God toward us both over so many, many years. Like I said, wonderful things happen when we wait patiently on the Lord.

The next day, after I got home, I sent Jan a DVD copy of the Joni movie. She was so excited to show it to her teenage girls. And you know, this is what I love about traveling with Joni and Friends. When the eyes of our hearts are open, God introduces us to the most exceptional people, no matter how late the hour, no matter how tired we are, no matter how much we’re inconvenienced. Believe me; after I finally got off the airplane, we did not get home until after 10:30 PM in the evening. My point is, no matter how much we feel God has forgotten us when we are weary and exhausted, there is always a blessing when we keep a bright perspective and wait on the Lord. How did I know I was actually waiting on the Lord that night on the airplane? Well, the lateness of the hour was no mistake and I know that our sovereign God doesn’t make mistakes. Everything falls under his purview—even if my wheelchair got lost for a little while. I took it as just part of His plan, not only to cultivate patience in me, but to give a blessing to a flight attendant.

Psalm 27, verses 13 and 14 say this: “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” So, the next time you’re inconvenienced, the next time you’re somewhere and the hour is late, look for the blessing. God has you waiting for a reason. And it may not be only to benefit you, but that your testimony will benefit someone else. So be on the lookout for that opportunity today!

© Joni and Friends


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