Lauri and I just returned from a week of vacation in Deltona, Florida. It was a bit cool last week for this time of year, but believe me, Lauri and I did not mind wearing a sweatshirt — 62 degrees was just fine for us for a couple of days — ya’ll got a snowstorm. During your snowstorm we were walking in a botanical garden. I’m not gloating, just grateful for the blessing. Honest!
Our flight down to Florida was delayed about 2 hours which meant we left Cleveland about when we were supposed to arrive in Orlando originally. But it was no big deal, my parents just had to delay picking us up a bit. You know what made up for the delay, though? Lauri and I were seated in the Emergency Exit Row.
Ah, the Emergency Exit Row! 12 inches of extra space between us and the row in front of us… AND… there were only the two of us in the three-seat row, so we could spread out a bit. It was soooo luxurious! “Why, Yes, I’ll take a little champagne with my peanuts, thank you.” Alright, I am exaggerating a bit, but it was a nice upgrade… at least for a discount airline, anyway.
But you know what? Sitting in the Emergency Exit Row isn’t all luxury and poshness — that row is 12 inches wider for a reason… it’s the EMERGENCY EXIT ROW! As in — if this sucker goes down, this is the way out! When you sit in the Emergency Exit Row, you have a serious responsibility. YOU have to remove the Emergency Exit Door which allows the inflatable slide to activate, so that folks can exit the aircraft safely.
As the flight attendant gave us our instructions and reminded us of the responsibility we had accepted, I actually grabbed that emergency procedure card in the seatback pouch and reviewed just how to get that door open… I mean, trying to look at the card from the crash position in an emergency situation isn’t the most optimum time to figure out how to open that door, right? I also realized it probably meant that after I opened that door, it would be my responsibility to help other passengers exit the aircraft first… meaning, I would be one of the last ones off the plane. I realize the chances of an emergency are pretty slim. After all, flying is a very safe way to travel in the United States, but it was a bit on the sobering side, anyway.
As I pondered my circumstances in the Emergency Exit Row, I was reminded of my responsibility as a Christian to help people discover the eternal life found in Jesus. Disciples of Jesus occupy the Emergency Exit Row just opposite the Gates of Hell. We are charged with the commission to share the message of salvation that Jesus has provided for us all. I was reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans, My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them. Romans 9:2-3 NLT
I don’t believe Paul actually meant that he would trade his salvation in this manner, even if it were possible, but I do think it speaks to us of his deep desire to see people know Jesus. His sincere passion to have the gospel proclaimed and understood. In this verse we hear the cry of the heart of a missionary. I want to have a heart like Paul’s… To live the gospel and proclaim it in my life… to help others exit the broad road and find the narrow one… to help others know Jesus. “Lord, give me eyes to see… ears to hear… and a heart that realizes those around me who need to discover the Emergency Exit toward Salvation. Amen.”