I attended the National Leadership Institute Conference in Atlanta a week and a half ago sponsored by Center for Progressive Renewal.1 A friend let me use their buddy pass which means flying stand-by. There is a saying “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Which means, no matter how well you plan circumstances may change. I was bumped twice before I got on a flight and I was frustrated. However, before the day was over my attitude had been transformed. What if some circumstances are meant to change? What if some intentional course corrections are influenced by God?
I was bumped two more times before a seat opened up. I got to sit next to two lovely, young college students, cousins who were going to Florida for vacation. They asked me where I was heading and I told them. As we conversed one of them shared that she was a sophomore at Regis College. I responded, “Wow what a coincidence, I am Regis College Alumna!” They were both raised in a Seventh Day Adventist church in Malden. When they told me the address, I was taken aback. I had been a member of the church that sold the building to their parents, both ministers in the early 90’s. When I shared about Phoenix Rising UCC, they opened their tablets and explored the website, soon asking many questions. We parted with hugs and good wishes. Clearly, this was not a coincidence.
The conference was filled with wonderful fellowship and insightful information. It felt like being hit with a fire hose filled with grace. A highlight for me was the opportunity to share the Phoenix Rising UCC story with author Brian McLaren who was the key note speaker. His writings have had a profound effect on my ministry so meeting him was as much a stand-by moment as my fight.
On the way home I sat next to a pastor of an interdenominational church of thousand from Alexandria VA. What are the odds that I would sit next to yet another who shares my love for Jesus. When he opened his laptop There was a line highlighted: Jehoshaphat said: “Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever.” I leaned over and said I love the story of Jehoshaphat. He smiled, “Are you Christian?” “Yes I am” I replied. Our conversation was very interesting; me a liberal progressive God is Still Speaking Christian and he a spirit focused Pentecostal Christian. It was a delightful harmonious conversation. I got to share Brian McLaren’s influence and Phoenix Rising UCC. He gave me his card and asked if we could chat again sometime.
Brian McLaren wrote: “…Faith was never intended to be a destination, a status, a holding tank or warehouse. Instead, it was to be a road, a path a way out of old destructive patterns into new and creative ones. As a road or way, it is always being extended into the future…To be a living tradition, a living way it must forever open itself forward and forever remain unfinished- even as it forever cherishes and learns from the growing treasury of its past.”2
My experience has opened my eyes to the profound reality that we are flying standby every day. I think it is reasonable to conclude that flying stand-by is truly living by faith. If you could grasp this concept what would change for you? I am convinced that crossing paths with the folks during my trip was not a coincidence. I can’t help wondering how many opportunities we miss when we get upset and angry when plans and expectations go awry. How could living by faith modified discouragement and frustration? Would we be less likely to see ourselves victimized by circumstances? What would be the likelihood of being more purposeful? Imagine how your life could change if you began walking by faith as though you were flying stand-by! If we are awake and aware and let ourselves seize the day intentionally what amazing experiences will we encounter or even become a part of?
 Center for Progressive Renewal: http://progressiverenewal.org/
 McLaren, Brian D., We Make the Road by Walking: A Year Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation and Aticvation, Jerico Books, pg xii,© 2014