Fatigue swept over me as I curled up in my seat, preparing to finish the
last leg of my long flight home from a photo assignment in Nevada. Accompanying
the fatigue was a chill brought on by the cool window and inner wall of the
jet. Crystal clear, late-night skies spattered with stars caused me to wonder
how cold it really was at our cruising altitude of 35,000 feet. I pulled on my
jacket and zipped it tight, hoping it would hold back the chill for the
remainder of the flight.
At the start of the flight it looked as though I would have vacant seats
next to me, but at the last minute a guy slipped into an aisle seat two spots
away. Oh well, I thought, at least his being farther away will probably deter
any desire on his part to want to talk. Besides, I was feeling as though I
shouldn't say anything--at least for the moment. In practically no time the guy
had fallen asleep. Silently I prayed: "Lord, if You want me to say anything to
this guy I'll need for You to give me the words."
If everything went according to plan I would arrive in Atlanta just before
midnight and then head home to my warm, cozy bed. The trouble was that, despite
my tiredness, the cold kept me awake. After several failed attempts at falling
asleep, I resigned myself to just staring out the window. Perhaps I'd see
another shooting star as I had on the flight out.
An announcement by a flight attendant woke up the guy next to me. The
monotony of the flight was further disrupted when she approached our row with
refreshments. I made some sort of funny remark about being too cold to want ice
in my tomato juice. The guy next to me traded quips, and, before I knew it, the
ice between us had broken, and I had warmed up to a fully involved
I still wasn't sure of the direction the conversation would take and for the
most part just chose to ask my new acquaintance questions about himself. I've
learned that, if there's any opportunity for a conversation about Christ, it
must begin with a heavy dose of listening on my part. I learned he is a
software designer. We talked about computers and other aspects of his
I said I worked as a photographer for the North American Mission Board. That
led to the topic of what I believed about the Lord and why. He discussed world
religions and asked me questions I was able to answer with biblical responses.
Then came the questions I could only answer by saying, "I don't know the answer
to that, but I know Who does." My lack of an answer didn't seem to bother him
as much as give him the impression that "here was someone who was genuine and
didn't claim to know it all." I've found we're more credible if we just admit
we don't know everything.
As time went on Don told me that during his childhood he had been raised in
a Southern Baptist home but was no longer attending church. The depth and
candor of our conversation surprised me. Much of Don's side of the conversation
centered on the belief systems of non-Christian religions. I was able to assure
him that what differentiates Christianity from them is that Christianity
involves a relationship with a living God--Jesus Christ--Who wants to cultivate
a day-to-day love relationship with us. I told Don that He desires that same
relationship with him. I explained that through this relationship rules are not
the basis for behavior, but the change of heart governs our desire to serve the
Lord. Don's questions were challenging and helped me to examine why I believe
what I believe about Jesus.
Suddenly it occurred to me that I would have missed this opportunity had I
not been chilly and unable to sleep. By breaking the ice with the passenger
next to me God was again saying: "Just take the initiative, and I'll do the
When we exited the plane, we discovered that our cars were parked in the
same lot. The walk gave us a few more minutes to talk. Had Don been uneasy with
my discussing Christ with him he could have chosen a different route to his
car. Instead he chose to walk alongside me.
Gibbs Frazeur, photography firstname.lastname@example.org
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