Standard Operating Procedures
by Shannon Heiden
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I recently took a trip in which I traveled by plane. I haven’t been aboard a plane in a few years and oddly enough I found myself feeling a bit elated and excited to be traveling once again by this mode of transportation. I also found it fascinating that one minute you can be in one place and within a few hours you can be in a completely different place many miles from home.
As I boarded the plane my first observation was that of the passengers that got to board before me. As a passenger of any flight you are categorized in groups; group A-D or groups 1-5 depending on the scheduling and / or class you are flying in. I first saw the people who were flying first class; they were already sitting in their seats looking up at the people coming in after them. Then as I went on a bit further to find my seat I saw many open empty seats and some that were filled by people who boarded before me.
As I found my row and seat number, I tucked my carry on bag in its place in the overhead compartment and promptly took my place, then I adjusted myself to get comfortable, buckled my seat belt and waited to see who would be my companion in the space next to me. After everyone boarded the plane, the captain promptly greeted us over the inner com, told us who he was and prepared us for take off, before he signed off he told us what our final destination would be and what the conditions would be when we got there, he was careful to include that we may hit some turbulence but assured us he would do everything he could to avoid it.
Then we were off, the engines roared, we picked up speed and with butterflies in my stomach we all were soon in the air, leaving one place to get to another.
I soon picked up my magazine I had brought with me and started reading it trying to occupy myself for the next 2 hours. As I was reading, the flight attendants and the captain caught my attention once again. The captain was explaining on the inner com as the flight attendants demonstrated in person what to do in case of an emergency.
This is called ‘standard operating procedures.”
After they were finished I reached in the pocket in front of me to read an airline magazine and pulled out a brochure that explained once again “standard operating procedures.”
And I began to think.
What do those words really mean? The dictionary explains it this way: an established procedure to be followed in carrying out a given operation or in a given situation.
Then it became clear to me what the Lord was saying regarding these words. The Bible, the written Word of God, Jesus Christ the Word that became flesh, is an established, written procedure to be followed in carrying out any given situation in my life.
The Bible has many laws, true principles and wonderful promises, it also has consequences and pretty much a solution for every situation a believer would or could come face to face with.
Then I broadened the spectrum a bit, there were a lot of people that boarded this plane, everyone was unique no two alike, all had a purpose and a plan on that particular day to go from one destination to another.
Some were traveling because they had to for business purposes, some were leisurely traveling based on their own choosing, some were children and had no choice at all but all of us were given the same amount of provision. We all were given a seat, a right to board the plane, a drink if needed and food for purchase.
I found it quite interesting though that early on in the flight when the captain and flight attendants were instructing us on what to do in case of an emergency; the “standard operating procedures” that they asked everyone for their attention first and to my amazement most of the people never looked up or gave a second thought of doing so.
I noticed that most were distracted by talking to others nearby, others kept reading, a few were listening to their electronic devices and some even kept their eyes closed as if they were trying to sleep.
And I thought to myself; what would keep someone from listening to an instruction that could actually save his or her life?
Had they heard it so many times that they didn’t feel they needed to hear it one more time? Maybe, they never could imagine that some emergency would or could arise or maybe they just don’t care?
I came to a very interesting realization as I tried to listen intently to the instructions, trying my hardest to focus on them, above all the noise of the engines and passengers and not myself be distracted that this is how life can be.
Everyone on this earth is given the same opportunity. The Lord affords all His creation to accept Him, upon accepting his boarding pass, He then comforts us with all of the necessities we will need for our journey, He already had them prepared for us, all we have to do is board the plane, take our rightful seat as His child and listen intently to His Standard Operating Procedures. He provides people along the way to sit next to us, some for the whole ride, others for a part of it but nevertheless where He wants to take us is not just for us alone there will be others along the way.
I also found that the Lord will often get on the inner com of our heart and tell us where we will be going and just as the captain prepares us for what lies ahead when we arrive, so does the Spirit of the Lord.
I noticed that those who didn’t feel it necessary to listen to the captain are like those who choose not to listen to the Lord whether they are bored and dont feel like they need the instruction, distracted by the cares of the world or they just don’t care, either way they may find that they may be unprepared for the journey and found wanting upon their arrival.
I also wondered why there were so many empty seats? How many of us out there have never even boarded Gods aircraft and havent even begun the journey?
I think we all at some point in our lives have been on all ends of the scenario. I remember the time before I had flown, then came the time I had come aboard but ignored the Captain of my soul and I also know the times where I have not just heard Him but really listened.
I am guessing that this is a golden opportunity for all of us to examine exactly where we are at on this journey.
Are we distracted by others and the noise of the world? Are we caught up with our own needs and desires? Are we resting at ease with our eyes closed when they should be open? Or are we listening intently knowing that at any given time, at any given moment, life as we know it can change. Will we be prepared for the destination? Will we know what to do if the journey is interrupted or will we be scrambling around on the day of adversity trying to figure out what we should have known all along?
No matter where we are on this ride, one thing we can be sure of is this, we are not alone. No matter if we have given our full attention to the Captain or not, be reminded He is still there, He knows more than we do, He sees the stormy sky before we will and He knows just how to keep flying and even go above it. He knows where we are going and He has already provided every necessity before we even boarded His plane.
All we have to do is take the time to stop, give our attention and listen to HIS Standard Operating Procedures.
Listen to counsel and receive instruction that you may be wise in your latter days.
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Good contemplative thinking.