January 14, 2009

No More Delays

2009 1502 page21 cap’M WRITING THIS COLUMN WHILE STUCK IN MY THIRD AIRPORT IN AS many days—in a so-far vain attempt to get home as flight after flight has been cancelled due to wintry weather across the Midwest and Northeast portions of the United States. Flights have been backing up across the country, creating a logjam at major airport hubs. In fact, another delay of my flight has just been announced. I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever see the outside world again.
While trying to kill time, I’ve walked up and down airport concourses, ingested bad food, slept sitting up, commiserated with total strangers about our common dilemma, prayed, shared a Bible study with a fellow traveler, gave a mini sermon to a gate agent, charged my cell phone countless times, ingested more bad food, slept, walked, and, by the way, did I mention I ate bad food (all airport food is bad in my opinion).
Notwithstanding my failure in trying to escape my airport prison(s), all these flight delays and cancellations got me thinking about, well, delays—especially as they relate to our common desire for Jesus to come soon, and how long it seems to be taking.
Delayed but Determined
2009 1502 page21I’m fully aware of the arcane theological debates we are prone to engage in: Is Jesus actually delayed, or is He coming exactly at the time He had established beforehand? Whichever side you come down on (and it’s not really that important what you believe) it does feel at times as though we are in at least a holding pattern of sorts, and that something amazing is about to happen; that God is about to make a move; that this world is about to see the hand of God—up close!
I’m not one of these who connect end-time implications to every event on the planet. But I do sense that we are on the verge of something, and that the Holy Spirit’s fingerprints are all over it.
I’ve never seen so many people who are so open to spiritual conversations; people of diverse religious backgrounds—Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims—the list goes on. It seems as though you can strike up a spiritually oriented conversation on the spot, and people are open to talk.
Could the Holy Spirit be creating an openness in the hearts and minds of the multitudes as a “setup” for a great move of God? Now, I don’t have any theological “handles” to hang my observations on as such, yet I’ve always believed that God is going to do some miraculous things to reach the masses in these final days, just as He did in Acts 2.
So even though there seems to be a delay (again, I like to call it a holding pattern), God is clearly doing some things that are as yet imperceptible. But all of us who see ourselves as sold-out Christians must determine to be available to Him for whatever way He chooses to use us in this coming great move. For that to happen we must be available and on duty for Him now.
Come to think of it, maybe the real delay is not on God’s part, but our own delay in getting in step with what He is about to do, and His long-term desire to have both you and me part of it all.
 No More Delays
After almost 35 hours of traveling—mostly waiting—I finally reached home. It happened when I decided to switch airlines, as the airline I was flying with was simply not functioning that well. I wondered whether I should make the switch or keep waiting. I ended up doing it, but if I had delayed I would have missed the last flight out.
The “last flight home” is boarding now, and our job is not only to get on board, but to help others get aboard also. The delay is not on God’s part, but we, you and I, have to align ourselves with His great purposes and plans, however they unfold. 
Fredrick A. Russell if president of the Allegheny West Conference, with headquarters in Columbus, Ohio.