Surviving a Layover
By Kimberly R. Thomas © 2005
I'm a destination person. For me, "getting there" is an unavoidable inconvenience. I also prefer to fly non-stop … it's fast. I love to BE where I'm headed. But from time to time, the flight is delayed and I'm forced to postpone my plans.
What am I supposed to do with this time? I have places to BE, people to see … and I might be stuck here for a long time! What's a person to do?
Let's consider what I might see while I wait:
Some people argue with the airline personnel. This seems pointless. Airline employees are simply messengers from management who are keeping us from potential dangers.
Some people read the newspaper or a book. Others watch TV. Some talk on their cell phones, or work on a laptop. Or, if they are like my mom, they'll make a new friend out of another delayed passenger!
During a layover, everyone finds something to do--constructive or not. Each is trapped by circumstances they can neither change nor control.
There are also layovers in LIFE. But it's during this time I can experience some of the most amazing spiritual growth. God can renew my spirit, shed light on some dark places in my heart, feed me, teach me, and give me rest.
And like delayed passengers in the airport terminal, I have some choices:
First, I can argue with God. But why? He is God. He alone knows what's going on outside the gate area. Maybe there's something His mercy is keeping from me--some pain I cannot see. And He is always right.
I can spend more time in His Word. I'll likely find a side of Him I have overlooked, or worse, ignored completely. Also I can find great books that will nourish my soul and point me toward God's character. There is much to be learned from the experience of others.
I can also watch some uplifting and inspiring television programs. While there is much junk on TV today, there are several "inspirational networks" dedicated to ministering to the lost and found alike. Frequently the Lord uses a television messenger to speak into my life.
I can "phone a friend." Layovers are often a great time to reconnect with friends--or even my own family. In the busyness of my life and the confusion of my heart, I can overlook those people closest and most dear to me. My marriage can suffer and my children become little more than annoyances. Like "iron sharpening iron," I need friends who will listen when I am despairing about this season of my life.
Or, maybe, just maybe, a friend needs ME. You know, maybe this layover isn't about ME at all! Quite possibly, there may be someone God brings into my life I would never have met if not for this "inconvenient" delay.
And then, I need to take time to eat. It's critical I am committed to a local church, being fed from the Word on a weekly basis, as well as participating in corporate worship. In finding a place to be spiritually fed, I will also see other areas of my life ministered to. The writer of Hebrews said, "Let us not give up meeting together...but let us encourage one another." (Hebrews 10:25 NIV) There is a purpose for assembling together in corporate worship, for teaching and fellowship. I must not avoid it during the layover.
not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching
Sometimes all I need is REST. This layover can be a time for restoration. Like an old B.J. Thomas song, "I need to be still and let God love me." If your layover is self-imposed, because of burn-out, then this is a very important time for you. There is no need to jump right into another mode of serving. Just sit back, relax and let God love you.
Instead of looking at my life delays and layovers as a waste of precious time, I am learning to see that they are Precious Time. They are times when God's grace is poured lavishly on me, bringing me closer to Him, and preparing me for my destination. Who knows, He might change my plans altogether … I might end up somewhere I never dreamed possible! And I can't think of any place I'd rather be.
Kimberly Thomas is married and the mother of four children, ages 18, 15, 6 and 2. She lives in St. Charles IL, and enjoys reading, traveling, music, writing, public speaking, and spending time with her family. Kimberly is in the process of writing an autobiography based on her life experience in the death of her first husband. You can write to Kimberly through the Letters page of this magazine.