It's funny what lengths people will go to when avoiding conversation on an airplane. I know because too often I have been one of those people.
Every time I've traveled, there have been at least three or four other people on the plane with me. Several times it's been up in the double digits. So there's always someone I know sitting on at least one side of me.
That wasn't the case this Thanksgiving, though. My wife went early to visit her parents and her sister's family who all live in San Antonio, Tex. I left Tuesday evening traveling by myself for the first time.
Being on a plane alone of course meant that I would sit next to someone I've never met. I thought this might be a good opportunity to witness, to tell someone about Jesus.
Most people -- I've learned -- will sleep during the flight, therefore avoiding conversation with strangers. At least I thought they were asleep. Maybe they were just faking it.
Anyway, on the plane from Atlanta to San Antonio, I met the exception. I mistakenly sat in the next to last row, looked at my ticket and realized my error. So I moved back a row and sat next to Caroline.
She was an attractive young lady on her way home to spend the holiday with her family. And I couldn't help but think that my luck was working in reverse.
That kind of thing never happened to me when I was single. If I wasn't sitting between my cousin and my sister, I would always sit next to some huge sweaty guy with a cold or a lady with three screaming kids.
To those of you with dirty minds: no, I didn't hit on her. I'm happily married. I started the conversation with asking what her plans were for the holidays, visiting family, blah, blah, blah.
After a short exchange, things grew quiet, and she pulled out a book to read. All the while I was trying to come up with a way to bring the conversation to God. After a few pages, she decided to read something different, and her choice surprised me.
She started reading from the book of John in the Bible. That sparked conversation about scripture, church, praise music and my job as a youth director. Needless to say, I found out she was already a Christian.
It's really neat to see someone read the Bible in public. I told her it was a good way to witness. She even agreed to pray for my family during the holidays because of how tough the first holiday is after losing a loved one.
The conversation was really uplifting to me. It even helped to make a long bumpy plane ride through thunderstorms much shorter.
So maybe God didn't put Caroline in my path to tell her about Jesus. I think she was put there to encourage me. I hope I returned the favor for her. Just remember, encouraging may be your job the next time you sit next to a stranger.