the other side of the curtain

dearest readers (both of you): all i can say is i am sorry for the two month sabbatical and HAPPY NEW YEAR! it would be cliche to say my new year's resolution is to be more faithful to blogging, right?

i write from washington d.c., where i returned today for two weeks, resuming my doctoral work. my roommate, gerhardt, a pastor from maine, asked me if i flew in. i somehow resisted the urge to say, "yeah, and my arms sure are tired!"

but what an experience i had: i flew first class! thank you for the 1000th time, john and mary! this was my first time on the better side of "the curtain." i have to admit that i enjoyed the indulgences. when the flight attendant asked folk to please use the lavatory in their own section of the plane, i quietly smiled. when a guy in a t-shirt, shorts, and flip flops (excuse me, it was 35 degrees this morning!) came forward from the other section to use our bathroom i regarded him with suspicion. the steward let him use the first-class toilet. such arrogance! as my delicious lunch (no extra cost) was being served, an attendant announced to the rest of the plane that snacks were available for $3. i had to chuckle.

this being my first time with the important people, i was very cognizant of things to which i was not accustomed:

1. the steward asked to hang my jacket for me.
2. i was offered a drink before take-off (i had orange juice).
3. i was offered a drink after take-off (coke). served in a glass.
4. at snack time-- before lunch-- he came back with a ramikin made of china (that sure is a fancy word for 'little bowl') of mixed nuts. i was thrilled, because with miles' peanut allergy i never get to eat nuts. the bowl was hot. not warm-- hot. and the nuts inside were warm.
5. before lunch they brought us a warm towl.
6. the aforementioned lunch was small chicken strips, a pasta side, a small salad with greek vinagrette dressing, brie cheese and crackers.
7. we were offered red or white wine. i chose water. actually i only declined the wine-- still had the coke-- and the guy brought me water.
8. after lunch the attendant came through with cookies. i was full and declined. chocolate chip even. i'll need to remember that for my sermon on gluttony next month!

i'm sure there were other indulgences, but you get the idea. i lived it up. i sat in my wide leather chair, listened to my ipod, and read my new bill bryson book. aside from a few bumps, it was my best experience on a plane since our honeymoon. how i am going to survive 9 hours in coach on the way to england in march i do not know. and i was half-kidding about the attitude toward those on the other side of the curtain. believe me, i was mindful as to which side i really belong to.

and i was very thankful for three hours of feeling like i was important and respected. i don't mean to imply that i do not enjoy my life-- i do, and very much. and i am always mindful that my life and everything in it, family, church, home, finances, etc. come as a gift from God. if nothing else, flying first class for the first and probably only time in my life gave me some perspective. everything you want or need-- and even beyond that-- is offered to you, sometimes without even asking. but it comes at a steep price. God's grace, however, comes free of charge. not even a bag of peanuts or a blanket is free on a plane, but God's saving, life-giving grace is. for those of us who have never experienced it, there ought to be some sort of test drive. try grace for a weekend-- kick the tires, run it hard on the freeway. trust me, you'll fall in love with it. and there will be no dotted line on which to sign-- the price was already paid by Christ.

what about those of us who know grace but have become so accustomed to life with it that the thrill of expectation is gone? has our grace-filled life become mundane? should God withdraw grace for a weekend so we can see how truly good we have it? maybe so, but that's not the kind of God we worship. no matter which side of the curtain we find ourselves sitting in, the gift of grace is there for us. everything else is an unnecessary luxury.


Anonymous said…
Happy New Year, Frank! Thanks for filling my cup today. Glad to see you blogging again. I've missed reading your words.

Anonymous said…
Happy New Year, Frank! Thanks for filling my cup today. It's great to read your words again. I've missed your blog.

Anonymous said…
made me cry
dont know why
just did