This past week, I received an invitation to speak in Jackson, Tenn., and it reminded me of the biggest mix-up in which I’ve ever been involved. The year was 1974, and mine was an early morning flight to Jackson. I was to be guest of honor at a noon luncheon and speak at 2 p.m. at Lambuth College.
When I got off the plane, no one was there to meet me. Since the plane was late, I assumed they had returned to the college for lunch. I began to get uneasy, however, when I telephoned the operator to ask for the number of Lambuth College, and she replied, “We have no such college.”
Fearfully, I asked, “Operator, am I in Jackson, Tennessee?” Calmly, she said, “Honey, you’re in Jackson, Mississippi.”
Quickly, I approached the ticket agent with my tale of woe. Seemingly undisturbed, she remarked, “You have been mis-sent.” My reply: “I know that, but I have to speak there at 2 o’clock. What am I going to do?”
Cheerily she replied, “We’ll send you by air taxi.” I soon learned that air taxi means a tiny little plane that is non-pressurized, non-air conditioned, non-everything. It was 104 degrees that day in Mississippi, and my stomach was doing what my mother’s friend called “cutting up and carrying on.” I was no mood to relate to the woman seated beside me, who had tears coming down her cheeks.
Yet, I asked, “Is there anything I can do to help?” Hers was the worst story of degradation I had ever heard. Then, she said, there is no hope.” Quickly, I added, “You’re wrong there. God has not moved away from you. You’ve moved away from God. He’s right here with us now.” We talked for a while and I had a prayer.
When we got off the plane, she showed me her suicide note. “I had planned to take my life in Jackson today, but you gave me hope.”
I didn’t give her hope. God gave her hope. The lesson I learned is that God is not as interested in our ability, as our availability, to help others. I think I was supposed to be on that air taxi.
Contact Nell Mohney at firstname.lastname@example.org.