Get a couple of veteran airplane travelers together, and before long you're bound to hear some "war stories." In fact, you're about to hear one now. Basically, it was one of those days at the airport. I was scheduled on a morning flight from the West Coast back to the New York area with a connection in a Midwest city. When I arrived at the airport, I learned my flight was being delayed for about four hours, thus killing my options for getting home for a while. Another flight on the same airline had been canceled, so there was a long line of us not-so-happy campers at this airline's ticket desk - for an hour and a half we were in line. The longer we had to wait, the more options were slipping away. Well, I quietly prayed and reminded Jesus and me that Jesus is Lord. The men behind me were becoming increasingly vocal about their unhappiness, so being the crazy man I am, I decided to try a little humor and lightheartedness. Pretty soon, we were laughing at our situation instead of overheating about it.

When we finally reached the front of the line, one man said, "Hey, I'm glad we had someone like you in this line." To which I said, "Hey, you can't pick your situation, but you can pick your attitude." Well, when the ticket agent finally figured out a way to get me home, he said, "I think you owe me." Instead of a flight where I had to change planes in another city, it was non-stop. Instead of arriving at 10:30 at night, it would arrive at 8:30. And as I was just about to board, the agent called me back and changed my seat assignment - to First Class, where I had a great meal, the room to get a lot of work done, and a divine bump-in with a flight attendant I knew from 18 years ago who really needed a pastor that night! Well, needless to say, I had no complaints with God's happy ending!

If you've ever checked your suitcase when you're about to take a trip by airplane, you know what they do with our luggage. No, not lose it. Not usually. The ticket agent determines what your final destination will be, he prints out an adhesive sticker with that destination on it, and he puts it around your suitcase handle. And then you settle back in your seat, knowing that bag will meet you at the other end of the trip. With the millions of bags the airlines handle daily, it's amazing that most go straight to the right destination. Now there are some exceptions. Like the one I checked in Idaho about two weeks ago. Oh, I checked it through to my final destination - Newark, New Jersey. It's still floating somewhere out there in the Baggage Twilight Zone. Well, like I said, most of the time they get it to your final destination.

It's the word you hope you'll never hear when you're in your doctor's office - cancer. But recently there's been a beautiful four-letter word that may go with that ugly word. It's the word "cure." The possible breakthroughs have to do with one of the greatest killers of women - breast cancer. But the discoveries may turn out to open up ways to cure other cancers, too. This entirely new approach to fighting cancer - one that has shown promising results in lengthening the lives of terminally ill cancer patients - has been described as "attacking cancer at its genetic roots." The gene is called HER2, and it produces this protein on the surface of cells that ultimately helps accelerate that abnormal growth that becomes cancer. Scientists have now developed a treatment that attacks this genetic malfunction that causes some cancers. One researcher offers hope to millions who have cancer or who may develop cancer when he says, "If we understand what is broken in the malignant cell, we may be able to fix it." They're calling this one of the hottest areas of cancer research. And it makes sense - stop the cancer by stopping its genetic root.

There's a high fence around my friend Mel's garden. And he's got the most incredible fruit and vegetable garden I've ever seen. When Me; or his wife are at the grocery store, they can pretty much sail right past the produce department - they own a produce department. Their garden produces bumper crops of fresh tomatoes, corn, berries - you name it. I always enjoy taking a walk with Mel through what really feels like "God's little acre." But you don't just stroll from the yard right into the soil of the garden. You see, you have to open a gate and then go in. Every inch of that garden is surrounded by this sturdy fence. Now why does Mel have that big old fence around his garden? I suppose someone might say, "Oh, he just doesn't want anyone in there enjoying it." No. He has a fence there, not to limit your enjoyment of the garden, but to protect your enjoyment of the garden. It's not about keeping people from the beauty. It's about protecting the beauty from the things that could destroy it.

The lady in the airplane seat next to me was from Norway. And I knew she had experienced something I needed to know about - winter months with very long nights and summer months with very long days. With our Native American team planning major summer outreach among Native young people in Alaska, I was especially interested in what our days would be like up there. My neighbor from Norway made the answer very clear - they would be endless! She said that even after all the years living there, she never can sleep much in those northern days where there is virtually no dark. I thought, "O-o-o, it should be a lot of fun getting our team to sleep at night, when there is no night." But then I was curious to know about those December days when we have only about nine hours or so of daylight. She told me about a time when it was, in her words, "almost always dark," where she lives. It's hard for me to imagine weeks where you basically never see the light of the sun. It's not hard for me to imagine the way my Norwegian neighbor said many people feel during that time - really depressed.

There aren't many visits to a graveyard that might be described as "amazing." But one I had recently was nothing less than amazing. When our "On Eagles' Wings" outreach team of young Native Americans was on the Nez Perce Reservation in Idaho, we met this young basketball player named Quanah. He made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that weekend, and he asked if he could go with our team to other reservations for the following two weeks. We don't usually add team members along the way, but because of the urging of some strong Native believers there and our own sense of Holy Spirit's leading, we invited Quanah to join us.

The other day, while I was out of town, my wife woke up to the sound of hoofbeats in our yard. That's actually a problem. Misty, her horse, is supposed to be out in the pasture, inside a barbed wire fence. But this particular day Misty was having a grand old time running around our yard - and, without quick action on my wife's part - soon she would have been out of our yard and in harm's way. Fortunately, my wife managed to get Misty back to her pasture before any harm was done. But the big question was, "How do you prevent this horse from getting out again?" The problem was that storm with 80 MPH winds the other night - it uprooted the tree that was anchoring one corner of the pasture's barbed wire fence. We were hoping that the downed tree and the partially intact fence would be enough to keep Misty in until we could close the gap. It wasn't. Our horse just found the gap and ended up going where she really should not go.

 

The other day in the airport, I saw a mother and her daughter hustling to make a plane. But the little girl's face was covered with a mask that was basically a screen - she could see through it, but it was protecting her face. In just a glance, I could see that her face had been badly burned. She had long sleeves and long pants on, but my guess is that she probably had burns on other parts of her body, too. I really felt for her - and for her mother. She appeared to be a burn victim, doing all she could to heal and recover.

After living most of our lives in a major metropolitan area, we are enjoying some of the benefits now of living near one of America's "top 100" small towns. And there's a real feeling of community around here. One of the times you really feel it is during holiday parades. We've got this classic town square with the county courthouse in the middle, a bandstand, and stores all around the square. So we love to take our grandson and get a front row spot to see all the bands and floats and decorated vehicles as they move around the square in a parade. Of course, the part all the kids - including this kid - like the most is when the people on those floats or in those vehicles start throwing handfuls of candy all over the place. They always seem to have plenty, and to throw out plenty, so plenty of children can walk away with plenty of goodies in their pockets!

My dad had taken me on all kinds of rides at Riverview Amusement Park that day - but he wanted to take me on their biggest roller coaster, "The Bobs." I did not share his excitement. I'd seen the commercials with people screaming in terror as they were catapulted through space on those murderous ups and downs. But I gave in. As we were subjected to those heart-stopping heights and drops, Dad tried to talk to me. I didn't scream, I didn't cry - I didn't do anything. I was frozen. No sounds, no expression, no signs of life.

            

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Ron Hutchcraft Ministries
P.O. Box 400
Harrison, AR 72602-0400

(870) 741-3300
(877) 741-1200 (toll-free)
(870) 741-3400 (fax)

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