The Empty Seat


I couldn't believe my good fortune. The seat next to me on the aircraft was still empty and the cabin crew were already closing the doors. We were leaving right on time for a 5 hour night flight to Reykjavik, Iceland, where we would land at 6:30 local time. Our entire night would pass in this brief 5 hours, and I, for one, was planning on sleeping through the flight. The fact that I had no seatmate on one side assured me that I would be a tiny bit more comfortable in my endeavours!

I glanced across my husband, who occupied the aisle seat, to my two teens in the aisle and middle seats across the way. They had not fared as well as I. A gentleman occupied their window seat.

"Oh well," I thought smugly, "at least someone will get some sleep!"

But the gentleman was calling out to the flight attendant, asking if there were any empty seats on the aircraft. It seems that he and his wife were separated for the flight, a fact which obviously didn't make him happy!

I glanced at my empty seat. Should I give it up so he could sit with his wife?

Naw! Screamed a voice within. You're the one who will have to spend all of tomorrow driving while the rest of them catch up on their sleep in the car! You deserve this empty seat!

I liked that little voice. Yes, this was obviously a gift from God!

But that "nice" voice was crowding out a stiller, smaller one, one which I didn't wish to hear: It's such a little thing! You know I'll take care of you!

I sighed, then I raised my hand to catch the attention of the flight attendant. "One of my boys can sit in this empty seat," I said, indicated the coveted spot. "Then the gentleman's wife can sit with him!"

And so it was arranged. My 6-foot son crawled over me to crowd himself into the window seat. But I wasn't worried. God had promised to give me a good night's sleep!

That's when the toddlers in the row of seats behind me started kicking the back of my chair. And they didn't stop until we landed in Reykjavik . . .

I prayed for patience and tried to relax. Then, just as I was almost asleep, my husband jumped up with his camera, pushed it across my face, and began taking pictures out the window. I could have strangled him!

He drifted off to sleep after this, and despite the incessant drumming on the back of my chair, I again tried to relax. That's when my son started to wiggle. "Can't you be still?" I whispered.

"Not in these seats," was his response.

Between his wiggling and the constant banging on the back of my chair, spasms began developing in my legs. My entire life I have been "blessed" with a condition that I now know by the name of "Restless Leg". Anyone with this condition knows that sudden movements when you are relaxing will often set off muscle spasms, and once they begin, there is no stopping them. Especially not in these close quarters.

Needless to say, there would be no sleep for me on that flight, and when we finally landed, I was in no shape to spend the day behind the wheel of a foreign car in a foreign country.

"Why, God? You promised to take care of me! Why didn't You help me sleep?"

I felt remorse as soon as I allowed the thought to cross my mind, and I could already hear the quiet rustle of "wind" that always seems to proceed the voice of my Lord and Saviour: "I never promised you a good night's sleep, My child. I promised I would take care of you!"

"But You didn't do it!" I challenged, angry now. "Now I have to drive all day and You know how sleepy I get when I drive!"

"I promised I would take care of you, and I haven't broken My promise!" Repeated that soft voice.

Suddenly I understood. I had misinterpreted this promise to mean I would sleep, but God had something different in mind!

He did take care of me that day, despite the fact that the car turned out to be a standard. He took care of me despite all the kilometres we put in and despite the foreign country and foreign laws. And most definitely, despite my fatigue! He gave me the strength and energy for that day, and once I was finally between the sheets of our hotel room, I had a very good night's sleep, despite the four hour time change.

What was God trying to teach me?

That no matter what, He will take care of me! It may not be in the way I think it will be, but in the end, I can trust Him to work out what is best!

Friends, sometimes things don't go the way we think they should. But no matter what, God can be trusted. Sometimes we became very disillusioned with God because He appears to be ignoring us. Do we trust Him to know what is best? Do we trust Him to make everything beautiful, in His time?

Think about it!

"And He has made everything beautiful in His time." (Eccl 3:11)

Lyn Chaffart , Mother of two teens, Speech-Language Pathologist, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, www.scripturalnuggets.org , with Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org .

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