H and I sit in blue vinyl seats in front of the board scrolling digital with arrivals and departures. A woman behind the desk frantically clicks keys, shuffles through boarding passes, when a flight attendant pulling his overnight case distracts her. “I know that guy, the flight attendant,” I whisper to H.
He laughs. He hears me say this often, how I know people. As newlyweds lying on the couch watching television one night, I recognize a classmate on a game show. Then I spot a college friend playing a major role on Jag sometime later.
It’s common for me to walk through an airport and run into someone I know. And H, if he was skeptical before, he believes me now. We’ve upgraded to first class after a reunion with that flight attendant. (That was before all of his swanky Sky Miles.)
Sometimes I avoid reunions. Like the time a flight attendant happens to be an old boyfriend. Luckily, he’s too busy passing out trays at the front of the plane to notice me. Or maybe I avoid eye contact every time he passes by. Whatever.
Then I bump into people I know but can’t put into context, no matter how hard I try.
I’m in the first row on Southwest; you know, the wide one with club seating. A blue-eyed, curly blond sits sandaled across from me. We exchange smiles and eye contact, both admit we know each other but can’t place exactly how.
Throughout the entire flight, we wander through our personal histories by decades, trying to find some common ground. Because we both know definitively, we’ve met before. Where did you grow up? Go to school? College? Church? Where do you live now? Have you been in any kind of ministry? Missionary?
Nothing. Natta. No connection. At all. However, we’re certain in knowing we’ve met before.
I actually start to think that perhaps she had a brain injury and that’s why she isn’t remembering. No kidding. Because that’s never happened to me before. Ever. I can still see her face like it was yesterday and only God knows how we met before that plane flight.
And perhaps all this connecting with random people while traveling, it starts while I’m an impressionable college student in a Romanian hotel lobby. When a group of Marines wander by, overhear our mission team speaking English, and engage some of us in conversation.
I tell them about my Marine cousin from Houston, wonder if they might know him. Sort of like asking someone that lives in Canada if they know your cousin from Nebraska who lives there now. It seems like a dumb question after I hear myself ask.
When I tell him the name of my cousin, he smiles and says, “Yes, I do. He’s my roommate back home.”
My hand covers my mouth and I step back. Not just for the surprising serendipity, but also for the lesson I learn about the omniscience of God in that holy moment.
Because while watching television, sitting in airports, flying across the world, navigating new culture, bumping into old friends and making new ones, He is infinitely aware of our existence. He is present in all places, at all times, even when we forget that. He sets the bar on knowing people, remembering the forgotten.
Our father in heaven knows our frame and remembers that we are dust. He knew our inborn treachery, and for His own sake engaged to save us. ~Isaiah 48:8-11