Monday, February 02, 2009

when hell freezes over

This week I was in San Diego with a couple hundred Vineyard leaders. In two of the sessions, guest Ed Stetzer spoke. Ed is an author and missiologist trying to help churches function in more missional ways. That’s my love language. I’m thrilled to hear more and more of an outward-focused slant in the Vineyard movement. Ed reminded us that it was Augustine who said, “The Church is a whore, but she’s my mother.” Face it: at times it’s hard to not be critical of the Church…and we should be. But we must love her as well; she’s the Bride of our Master. He finds her gorgeous, worth laying down His life. We should too.

It was a comedy of meteorological errors getting there. The snow and ice storm hit. Anita and I got up at 3:30am on Wednesday morning to drive to Dayton airport (Cincinnati: the nation’s highest priced airport). Halfway there (driving about 40 mph) I-75 turned into a parking lot. We sat perfectly still for an hour in the snow. By the time we got there, our 7am flight to Cincinnati (yeah, that’s right...Cincinnati) had left. We were told the next possible flight was at 5pm to Atlanta with a connection to San Diego. Imagine being trapped in Dayton airport for ten hours. It would take us hours to drive home (uh, illegally; a snow emergency was now in effect). Turns out our original 7am flight sat on the tarmac for four hours and came back in when they ran out of de-icer at Dayton. There were no happy campers on that airplane.

After lunch, I got a Delta voicemail that the 5pm flight had now been cancelled and the next available flight was Friday. Friday? And today is Wednesday!? I pleaded for mercy; they put us on a flight to Cincinnati leaving immediately to connect with Salt Lake City with a connection to San Diego…we could still get there by 10pm. Awesome!—at least we’d only miss the first session.

Three hours later we were still sitting on the tarmac. They ran out of de-icer again. You’d think there would be a lot of de-icer at an airport in the Midwest in January. Whatever. But the poor pilots were the same ones that were shut down at 7am. The crew was only slightly p.o.’d.

At this point I’m thinking if I could just get off this plane I could drive to Cincinnati and catch the connection. We finally took off at 6:30pm but, of course, missed every connection in the world to San Diego. We could fly to Atlanta and leave from there in the morning, or catch a direct flight from Cincy at 9am. We opt for the direct flight. Delta offered us a reduced rate at a Baymont. That’s when it got interesting; apparently they did that for a hundred or so other people stranded at the airport, all waiting outside in subfreezing weather for a shuttle van that seats nine people. It was like a Titanic lifeboat. After waiting nearly an hour, we finally got on, trying not to think that we could drive home if our car wasn’t in Dayton. And, oh yeah, we don’t have our luggage.

Day two with the same clothes began at 7am with a similar rush for the lifeboat. We barely made the flight…there was so much confusion about our route in the computer. Then it was delayed leaving the airport because of planes getting de-iced, but eventually we made it to sunny San Diego. All’s well that ends well, eh?

I remember a flight to Nigeria where I was seated in the very last row with my head against the wall of the bathroom. What a transatlantic treat! It’s extremely loud in the back, the doors banged incessantly all night and the aroma was, well, use your imagination. As we got near the end of the flight, my Nigerian friend Emmanuel Itapson came to the back with his two-hundred watt smile and said, “David, what sin did you commit that has caused this?” Then he said, “Come on up to the front of the plane, there are plenty of seats…we’re lying down across them!”

Where was he eight hours ago?

Big deal. Here’s the reality check:

I’ve worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death’s door time after time. I’ve been flogged five times with the Jews’ thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I’ve been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I’ve known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather. (2 Corinthians 11:23b–27 Message Version)

Talk about a road warrior. Okay, no more whining.


  1. Yikes. That could not have been fun. I had a friend that was stuck on a plane for 8 hours on the tarmac with a newborn...

  2. Dave it could've been worse you could have had the Scott boys with you on your airport adventure!!!