(This testimony was written before the tragedy of 9-11, when it wasn’t required to be at the airport as early as it is now.)
One area my wife and I have clashed over repeatedly in our marriage is our traveling. Whenever we leave on a trip, Teresa insists that we get to the airport early, giving plenty of time to park and get to the gate a full hour before our scheduled departure. I take a much more casual approach, figuring that if the plane is supposed to leave at 9:00 A.M., we don’t need to be there until 8:55 to walk on and sit down. To me, an hour lingering in the airport boarding area is an hour of productive time wasted. So every trip renewed this conflict. Teresa snaps into whip-and-drive mode to get us to the airport early, and I drag my feet, knowing the plane won’t leave without us —and if it does, there will be another one soon.
But as I began to learn about my wife in order to become more caringly involved in her life, I discovered a deep-seated fear from her childhood. Growing up in a large family of limited means, she feared at times that there might not be enough food for her. She feared there would not be enough money to meet her needs. Three of her five siblings were hearing impaired and attended special schools. These children got the new clothes, and Teresa got hand-me-downs, so she often feared there would not be enough clothes for her. She grew up in constant fear that there would not be enough of anything for her, and she struggled with this fear all alone.
Such fears no doubt contributed to Teresa’s coming into adulthood with a high need for security. On the issue of traveling to the airport, her need might sound something like this:
“We must get to the airport early because there may not be enough parking places. If we can’t get into the main lot, we may have to park in the remote lot where we have to ride a shuttle bus to the terminal. If the shuttle is full, we may not get to the terminal to board on time, and there may not be enough room in the overhead compartment for our carry-on bags. And if we have to check our carry-ons, they may get lost and we won’t have what we need when we arrive. So we have to get to the airport early.”
For years I just argued with Teresa about what I regarded as her paranoid approach to travel. But all my logic did nothing to meet her need, and the unresolved conflict and pain hindered our intimacy.
As I began to welcome Christ as my colleague and companion in loving Teresa, God began to speak to me about this issue. Our dialogue might be characterized by something like this, based on what he was teaching me from Matthew 25:40:
Jesus: “I needed to get to the airport early, but you would not take me.”
David: “Lord, when did you need to get to the airport early and I did not take you.”
Jesus: “Every time you ignored Teresa’s need for security and failed to get her to the airport early, you did it to me.”
God’s convicting word to my heart produced a sense of brokenness. Not only had I hurt and disappointed my wife by failing to love her as she needed to be loved, I had hurt and disappointed the Savior. I began to see the issue differently. I wondered produced a sense of brokenness. Not only had I hurt and disappointed my wife by failing to love her as she needed to be loved, I had hurt and disappointed the Savior. I began to see the issue differently. I wondered if my effort to get to the airport would not only bless my dearest one but in some mysterious way even bless our God. This is the weirdest thing I have ever heard, God, I thought. We don’t have to be at the airport so early. The plane won’t leave without us. If our luggage gets lost, they will find it and deliver it to us. It’s no big deal. But if this is the path to loving Teresa and blessing you, I guess I should head that way even though it seems like a waste of time.
So we started leaving for the airport when Teresa wanted to leave. We were able to park, check in at the gate, and get our boarding passes in plenty of time. Teresa was thrilled, and I sensed God’s pleasure in simply giving to meet her need. But as I sat down in the boarding area for up to an hour, at times it still felt as if I was wasting valuable ministry time.
But something glorious began to happen. God took those hours in the airport and began to transform them into some of the sweetest times of insight, wonder, and worship I have ever experienced. A great deal of the biblical revelations I have shared recently in conferences and training sessions came to me while sitting in airports. There was something wonderfully mysterious about it, as if the Lord was saying, “You thought this would be wasted time. But you gave of yourself to meet Teresa’s need and to heal some of her childhood pain. And by allowing her more time at the airport, you and I have more time at the airport. By your glorifying me through giving, I let my glory overflow to you.”
This testimony was written by David Ferguson, from the book, Never Alone, published by Tyndale House Publishers. Unfortunately, this book is no longer being published. We hope that you can find it at a used book outlet because it truly is a great book!