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Another Airplane Connection

OK, this has been a year for good things (and maybe some trying times, but who’s comparing?) and surprises. A few weeks ago a friend talked about instances in life where things happen, out of nowhere, for a reason and it makes you marvel. He called these moments ‘God Winks.’

About a year ago, I was part of a defining moment. For a few years, because of my own doing, I had felt that I was not equal to the task I was given. I tried and tried to let go of my place and begin to gracefully back away and redefine my life. It was not to be. On December 28 of 2007 I had to step up to the plate and live my life the way it was written. I could not back down, back out or back away any more.

When that moment happened it began a trajectory of events that culminated in the next few months saying to myself that I could no longer go through the motions and do what was expected of me. I had to be and live as I was wired to live. I had to be creative, moving, thinking. It was not to happen in a fortnight. For two months I struggled to get back in line, discover organizational process and chart a new path.

Within a few weeks, things began to evolve. I was asked to speak at a gathering of leaders from South Africa that was convening in Chicago. There I shared my heart and my story like I never had before. As I listened to myself I realized how far I was from where I wanted to be and what my intentions were early on.

I began to question why I had held myself back and locked myself down for years. I would cry, sometimes uncontrollably, and recount moments that were embedded in my memory. They were moments of regret and remorse. Here I was at 47 years of age and realizing I had almost wasted my life.

But, then I also knew I had time. There was time to turn it around but it was to be painful and I had to undo a lot of decisions I had made. I had lived for so long in such a fog of un-reality that what was true wasn’t true at all. I could not go another year without shedding the façade I lived for years. The problem with that decision was that, like an onion, it begins to peel in layers not chunks.

Now, I am sitting in a room in Costa Mesa and smiling. I had another one of a series of ‘God winks’ today. I am not foolish enough to say that God is ‘on my side’ or ‘seconding my decisions’ but I wonder why I keep seeing glimpses of grace, freedom and hope when I have been so void of that for years.

Today, I boarded Delta flight 885 from Atlanta to LAX. A couple boarded behind me and then sat in the seats directly in front of me. I was 12C, they were 11C and 11D. I knew I recognized this man and could not, for the life of me, remember where or when. Two hours into the four-hour and seventeen miute flight I just had enough mystery and asked him. His name was Bill Frye and we met last year in cold, snowy Chicago where I was invited to speak and Bill was a participant. With Bill on this flight was his lovely wife. A year ago, Bill and I had dinner together with my friend Dries Lombard from South Africa.

It was just another one of those ‘moments’ where you believe God orchestrates things for you to be able to see grace alive in your life. In fact, Bill told me that they were supposed to be on a later flight, but received the ‘last two seats’ on this flight in order to get into Los Angeles sooner…and those seats just happened to be beside me. Yeah, right. God sees, God knows, God does.

Finally, the icing on the cake was this – this morning I sit down in the Crystal Cathedral and sitting in front of me was Joe Cavanaugh from Omaha, Nebraska, who I met by accident on a flight from Atlanta to Paris in May of this year as we both were unwittingly traveling to the same place – South Africa, to be in the same conference. What a God.

I love it when He winks!

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