“We have an emergency!” The flight attendant’s urgent whisper riveted my attention as she leaned over my seat in the exit row. Apparently, the plane’s flaps were not working, and we were being diverted to an airport with a longer runway. My mind began to race. She added, “Are you aware that the lives of the other passengers may be in your hands?” She pulled out the instruction card from the back of the seat in front of me. Then she asked, “Are you OK with this?”
I answered, “I’m OK.” I reviewed the procedures intently. As the pilot tried to reassure us, the Lord began to whisper to me in my heart, “In the same way that you are the doorkeeper to safety on this plane, as a believer you are a gatekeeper to life everlasting. Christians are seated on the ‘exit rows’ of the lives of those around them. You are the channels through which I have chosen to spread the Good News of salvation.” What an awesome privilege and challenge!
As we braced for the emergency landing and finally touched down, I kept thinking about the “eternal exit row.” I have always enjoyed sharing my faith, but now the Lord heightened my awareness of the urgency of stepping into each divine appointment with greater boldness.
A week later, my husband, Gene, and I were in Washington, D.C., for a meeting. The first evening, we encountered a long line at the restaurant we chose. As we waited for a table, we took our pager and headed to a bench outside occupied by one man. As he graciously shared his space, we began to exchange pleasantries. When he learned that Gene is a minister, he began to ask poignant questions about God. It dawned on me–we were seated in our new friend’s eternal exit row!
About that time, our restaurant buzzer went off. As Gene went inside to secure our table, I told him that I would be there soon. I continued to answer the man’s questions. Finally, I said, “Why don’t you join us for dinner?” We found Gene, and our discussion continued. Over dessert, our new friend began to weep as he cried, “I am desperate to know God!”
I pulled out a little card that I always carry with me and presented the Gospel. Eagerly, he wiped tears from his eyes and prayed with Gene to accept Christ–right there in the restaurant! We rejoiced with him and exchanged contact information so that we could send resources to him.
Gene and I practically floated down the street to our hotel that night. Our hearts beat with thanksgiving that our “exit row bench” had led to the ultimate escape–another safe landing with an eternal destination.
Williams’ article will appear in her forthcoming book, “From This Faith Forward,” published by Beacon Hill Press, Kansas City, Mo.