First Class!

It came easy.The idea to share a story from my writing over a decade ago for my father-in-law’s funeral, was a no-brainer.For most of my life with him, he always responded to my greeting, “how are you doing?” with two simple words:“First Class!” So, it is in his honor and hopefully for your enjoyment that I share it with you here.

It came as a surprise.  Matter of fact, it had never happened.  There I was sitting in first-class seating on an American Airlines flight out of Orlando, the gift of a crowded flight and coach-class seating draw.

It was so strange.I didn’t know how to act.However, I quickly noticed there was a certain etiquette to being first-class.By definition, it means “given or entitled to preferred treatment and handling.”Now I know what it means.

Being first-class means acting like you belong there.Holding my ticket stub and nervously watching every person board with a “Yes, I do belong in this seat” look on my face is not appropriate behavior for a first-class citizen.Sitting in only half my seat and wondering what to do with the rest is not the proper posture for the upper crust of frequent flyers and world travelers.So, I got over it.

Being first-class means acting like you expect to be treated kingly while roosting on your royal throne.It means not being surprised when you get your choice of drink served in a real glass, even before the buckle on your seat belt is snapped.It means not screaming with delight when you discover the meat and rolls with your meal were actually heated separately.It means not bellowing, “you’ve got to be kidding me” when offered the choice of a red or white wine with your meal.It means not using your pre-dinner, warm washcloth to wash your seating area, but waiting to see the others use it to freshen up their hands and face before the feast.So, I got over it.

While peering out the airplane window into the clouds, I could not keep from drawing a faith parallel to my first-class experience.My first-time encounter with the grace of God was a lot like discovering we have been moved to a first-class window seat next to the pilot when we actually spent all we had a lower-class coach seat next to the roar of the engines.But unlike my first-class experience, I have never gotten over my grace experience and neither did Arthur O. Little.No, he lived with the daily declaration that his walk with Christ was always, “First Class!”

After over three decades of managing and motivating people in the local church as a pastor, I now spend my waking hours heralding the call for living in redemptive, reconciled relationships. I simply call them “stay in the room” relationships.