On a recent trip I found myself in the Singapore airport with nine hours until my next flight. While the Singapore airport is surely one of the most beautiful in the world, nine hours is a long time, especially in the middle of the night, and I had already traveled from Jackson, Mississippi to Dallas to Los Angeles to Japan. Needless to say, I was exhausted, seriously so. In fact, for about an hour I thought I was going to faint. A hint of panic swept into my soul as well as a good dose of doubt as to my sanity.
The first order of business was to find a place to exchange money and buy something to eat and drink. But everything was closed. So I walked and walked and walked. At length I stumbled onto an American Express currency exchange, got some Singapore money and set out to find food. I ate some fantastic shrimp soup and drank at least one quart of water. To my surprise the food and water did not help much. Still feeling faint I figured I needed to find the most comfortable chair possible, thinking I would probably pass out—an unknown vagrant half way around the world from home.
Out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of what looked like an American football game on a huge flat screen TV in what turned out to be a Boston style pub, complete with Red Sox and Celtic memorabilia. Thinking I was delusional, I walked over to take a closer look. To my utter amazement, not only was it an American football game, but a replay of the Cotton Bowl. It was my team, the Ole Miss Rebels playing Texas Tech in one of the great bowl venues in our country. For those of you who do not know, I graduated from the University of Mississippi (known as Ole Miss), and we rarely have a great football team. But this year we did, and we ended up playing Texas Tech which was ranked 7th in country. According to polls, 91 percent of Americans thought Texas Tech would beat us without mercy. And they should have. It was a David and Goliath thing. But on New Years day the game was on, and we not only won, we dominated. It was one of our greatest games ever.
So there I was in Singapore, exhausted, teetering on the edge of fainting, and certainly scared, and there in an Irish pub was my team the Ole Miss Rebels on the big screen. It was an ESPN replay of the great game. What are the odds of such a moment? Who knows? Who cares? I did.
Of the thousands of folks passing through the Singapore airport on any given day, it is hard to imagine anyone who would be touched by an Ole Miss football game. But on that night, so far from home, Papa spoke to me loud and clear. Perhaps I should say, Papa spoke to me in the most personal and tender way.
There is something here about how personally Papa relates to us. The most important moments of faith are always intensely personal. I stood there and laughed as tears rolled down my cheeks, thinking to myself, ‘It is true. Papa is real. We are—I am—known and loved and cared for. Everything is going to be fine.’
I think this is a good way for us to pray for our friends and family. We ask Papa to speak to them in ways that may or may not be relevant to others at all, but are profoundly personal and tender to them.—and thus very meaningful. Isn’t that what Paul was praying for in Ephesians 1:15ff?
It is the Holy Spirit’s work to give us Jesus’ eyes to see Papa’s tender care, especially when we feel exhausted and alone.