Friday, June 22, 2012

The Little Soldier Girl


I really appreciate frequent flier perks, especially when I get a First Class upgrade.  I was in seat 2A, and the flight attendant had already asked me if I needed anything before takeoff. "I'm fine with water," I told her and settled into my comfy position for a combination of tarmac-watching and people-watching. Little did I know that I was about to be given an important yet simple assignment on this trip. "Man's goings are of the Lord; how can a man then understand his own way?" (Prov. 20:24) It pays to stay alert, especially in public. God may have something for us to do.

It wasn't long before I realized that our flight was transporting a group of soldiers. There were men and women in this group, with an age-range that I would guess to be from the 20's to the 40's. The line leading into the coach cabin came to a halt (as usual, because someone is always trying to wrestle a Moby-Dick-sized bag into the tiny overhead bins), so I started studying the soldiers faces. Some of them looked newly-minted; others looked experienced. One soldier, a young lady, looked like she could have been close to my daughter's age; maybe in her early twenties. I'm a pretty good age-guesser with young people.

As they stood frozen in line, I had more time for observation, and this young lady was right next to my seat. She noticed that I was staring, so she smiled briefly and then looked away, almost like a person who was trained not to make eye contact. Before she looked away, I noticed that her eyes didn't have that confident look that I saw in several of the other soldiers in her group. That doesn't mean she was scared; I wouldn't assume that, but she looked like a "little girl" to these Mother's eyes. The line started moving again, and so did the Holy Spirit.

"Go and trade seats," said the still small voice.

If you don't believe that the Holy Spirit of God still speaks, try a bit more Bible time. You'll get to know His voice, and you'll also learn that it pays to move quickly when He speaks. "And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice." (I Kings 19:12) I bent down to get my tote bag from underneath the seat in front of me, and then headed to the front to ask the flight attendant if there was still enough time for me to do a seat swap with one of the soldiers. She smiled sweetly and said, "You go for it, and thank you."

As I headed down the aisle, I noticed that there were a lot more soldiers on this flight than I realized, so now I was afraid that I wouldn't find the one I was calling "Soldier Girl" in my mind. Another flight attendant (I think he was in charge) saw me in the aisle and was about to ask me to take my seat when I said, "I'm looking for a soldier girl." This threw him off and he looked confused, as we were surrounded by soldiers in fatigues, but this gave me just enough time to scan the cabin and there she was, tucked up tight against the window (in what frequent fliers call a "knee-eating seat").

"Soldier Girl," I said with my authoritative Mom voice that I use with abandon,  "We're trading seats. You're going to First Class, seat 2A. Have a great flight!"

She smiled, looked stunned, and then took her pillow (she had a pillow, which made her look even more child-like to me), and went down the aisle. She turned around and said, "Oh, thank you!" One of her fellow soldiers said, "It's your lucky day!" The others chuckled, and I settled into her old seat. The soldier next to me was a nice young man, but just as I was about to start up a friendly conversation, the lead flight attendant came back and said to me, "Ma'am, I'm moving you up to Economy Comfort. You didn't have to give up your seat, but we're glad that you did. Follow me." 

He led me to an empty seat that had so much legroom that I could have sat on the floor and played board games. (Bulkhead seat, to those of you who are frequent fliers like me.) He then went back and moved a few more young lady-soldiers up to the other empty seats in Economy Comfort. We each had an empty seat next to us, which is rare! It was a good day to be a "soldier girl" (no offense, guys)! The rest of the flight was comfortable and uneventful, but there was one more task to complete: Soldier girl needed a "loaded tract" (tract with a tip). For reasons only God knows, this young lady was being singled out.

I carry very little cash, and most of it is designated to line my tracts. I have often jokingly said that putting a tip in a tract increases the reading comprehension, but it's really just a kind thing to do as well. We'll never know on this side of heaven what God will do with our tracts. Someone gave me a tract back in 1977 during a job interview, and look what God did with that tract! I love giving tips in tracts to service people; whether they're Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Hotel Maids! We are servants in God's great big garden, and we're supposed to sow the seed. Ours is not to worry about the crop; just to sow the seed. "Now the parable is this: The seed is the Word of God." (Luke 8:11) I wish I had time to sit down and witness to every stranger who accepts a tract, but in some cases, all I get to do is sow the seed.

As we landed and deplaned, I knew that Soldier Girl would be waiting for the others in her group, so I caught up with her and handed her the love token from the Lord. "Here are some Bible verses for you to read during your quiet time," I told her. She looked at me with eyes that said "thank you" before her mouth spoke the words. "God bless you, Soldier Girl." She thanked me again, and we saw each other one more time at baggage claim.

"Soldier Girl, what's your name?" 

"Jasmine." And when I asked her age, I was only off by one year: I had guessed 23; she was 22. I told her that I'd be praying for her, and then we parted ways. Our church email address is on the back of that tract, along with my name. I receive emails at our church regularly. I hope that one day, I'll receive a note from a soldier girl named Jasmine, telling me that she trusted Christ as Saviour. Fellow servant-gardeners, just in case Jasmine doesn't already know the Master, pray that someone will come into her life and water the seed that was sown today. 

Life is a vapor, but even more so for those in the military who serve our country. The next time you see a soldier, in addition to thanking him or her, give them a tract with a thank-you tip inside. We're soldiers, too. We should be armed with lots of "seed" and ready to be a blessing.

It was a very good flight.

"Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again." (Luke 6:38)



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