“I wish I had done more listening”

airline-seatsMy work at GoodSeed requires that I fly at times. These days, frugal airlines place their seats so close together that the travel experience they provide is one of shoulder-to-shoulder confinement. But it’s just not natural for us westerners to be sandwiched in so tightly with total strangers!

Recently, as I shoehorned my large frame into the assigned space, the unfortunate soul in the next seat gave me furtive glances, telling me that she was making her own spatial adjustments.

The middle-aged business lady did most of the talking during our two-hour flight, articulating in detail how she was increasingly tuning in to her inner self. I gently probed at intervals and learned that her practice of Yoga and other transcendental meditation disciplines were tools she used to expand her self-awareness.

I learned she had been raised on a dairy farm. However, she had stepped away from her traditional church beliefs to pursue a life of learning in India and at the feet of eastern mystical gurus.

Hers was an endless quest for spiritual self-realization. She told me of her hope that, one day, she might break through the dark confines of negative forces and enter an ultimate enlightened reality of oneness and tranquility within herself.

As we neared our destination, I inquired about her final authority for determining truth: How would she know she was on the right track? Could she ever escape the endless presence of evil?

My questions had an unsettling effect as the lady realized her entire worldview ultimately hinged on her own subjective experience. It prompted her to ask me in turn, “What is your ultimate authority?”

I thought, “I love it when this happens!”

Using the back of the seats in front of us as an imaginary whiteboard, I drew a circle to represent her endless cycle-of-life. Evil, I pointed out, is always present. No matter how many cycles of reincarnation one allegedly experiences, no matter how much karma one gains, good and evil remain present. But, there exists a very different worldview, one that is explained in the Bible.

Drawing a horizontal line with my finger to represent a historical continuum, I described how that evil had a beginning and will have an end; evil is bracketed. Only the biblical worldview provides this glad answer to the problem of evil.

I went on to explain how the God of the Bible is perfect—free from evil of any kind, that the universe he originally created was also perfect. We as humans crave that perfection, that freedom from evil, because God created us in his image. The biblical worldview is authoritative, I concluded, because it presents life from the perspective of the Creator of life.

I make a habit of packing a GoodSeed book in my carry-on luggage. When I offered her a copy of By This Name as a reasoned and objective explanation of history from God’s viewpoint, my travel companion thanked me profusely and then remarked, “Now I wish I had done more listening.”


Photo credit: “Seat backs and tray tables in their upright and locked position” by Nicole Mays is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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