Last week, I took dad and mom to the airport for their flight back to California. David had ordered wheelchair assistance and told me that I should be able to get a gate pass to help get them through security and wait with them until their plane left. Having not been to the airport in several years, it was interesting to see all the changes and improvements that had occurred at the local airport.
While we waited, I looked carefully at the boarding passes to verify the time etc. I noted on each boarding pass some instructions (exact wording not remembered): you must be at the gate 60 minutes prior to flight, no boarding less than 20 minutes prior to flight. When boarding started, the airline began by boarding those needing special assistance, which included wheelchair assists. At that point, it was just dad and a gentleman who had been in line in front of us at check in. It appeared that the idea was to get all the wheelchairs first as they cannot allow anyone else to go up the boarding ramp until the wheelchairs are back down on the ground.
Next, they called for those who had purchased priority boarding. During priority boarding, another wheelchair arrived. So after the priority passengers were boarded, the boarding process was stopped until the passenger needing assistance was on and the wheelchair was back down. There were many individuals from young to old. One set of kids excitedly told the gate assistant that they were going to Disneyland and as they were going through the door, the attendant enthusiastically yelled, “tell Mickey hi.” At some point in the boarding process, a fourth wheelchair arrived and they again stopped the boarding to load this one; however, this one ended coming back with the individual still in it. The individual was wheeled back down towards the main lobby and boarding resumed. Pretty soon boarding for all the other individuals was complete and the final boarding call was issued.
Soon after, the fourth wheelchair came back and the individual was wheeled back out to the plane only to return again. In the meantime, the gate attendants had noted that there were four individuals who were scheduled for the flight but hadn’t made it to the gate yet and so those individuals were paged to come to the gate immediately.
The drama ensued as the individual in the wheelchair was animatedly trying to talk to the gate attendants. This individual did not speak English but kept looking down the hall and gesturing. The gate attendants patiently tried to help by trying to figure out who was being looked for, trying to retrieve the individual’s boarding pass so they could find out what their name was (I’m assuming to check the computer to see if they were supposed to be traveling with someone) etc. The minutes ticked by… the plane was supposed to be leaving. Another couple came up and the gate attendant asked if they were supposed to be on the plane but they said they were early for the next flight. Finally the elderly individual got up out of the wheelchair and started walking back toward the main lobby and did not return. One of the gate attendants went out to the plane to see if maybe the person the individual had been looking for was already on the plane while one of the other attendants went after the individual. Finally, the attendant that had gone out to the plane called back in and said they needed to get going.
The doors to the outside were all closed as the flight got ready to take off. While the plane was still sitting there, two “college-aged” individuals walked up. I figured they must be early for the next flight, but then overheard them talking back and forth between themselves… “oh look, there’s the plane for LA.” “I wonder if (name of person) is already on?” “I wonder where all the people are?” “I thought there would be more people here.” They saw me standing there and asked if that was the plane to LAX and I answered yes. They then asked if people had boarded and again my answer was yes. Then they asked “well, how are we supposed to get on.” This time I had to say I wasn’t sure. So they went over to the locked doors almost as if they were going to knock.
Around that time, one of the gate attendants came back inside and they informed her that they were supposed to be on that plane. She replied “I’m sorry, the door is shut and once the door is shut, it can’t be opened.” These college-aged individuals were not so happy… “what? But they never called us.” The gate attendant replied that the plane door closes ten minutes before take-off and they had MISSED it. Shortly after, the attendant who had been trying to help the older individual came by and asked if they had missed their plane and informed them that another passenger had missed the plane too. He told them that the only thing they could do was to go to ticketing and see how they could help. The college–aged individuals questioned, “well can’t we just wait ‘til the next plane??” The attendant replied that the next flight to LAX would not be until Friday, but maybe they could catch an earlier flight to Vegas and then on to LA but they would have to go to ticketing to find out those options.
As all this unfolded, I thought about Noah and the ark and how once God shut the door of the ark no one else was able to get in; I thought about the parable of the ten virgins who were “waiting” for the bridegroom (Matthew 25:1-13). I was reminded too of a much more important appointment – an appointment that if one is not ready, there is no second chance. The appointment? The end of this life on earth – whether that is by physical death or when Christ returns.
God in His holiness cannot allow sin in His presence. Each and every person on earth has sinned. However, at Christmas, we celebrate that God being rich in love and mercy sent His son to this earth. Jesus Christ was born, lived a sinless life and then took the punishment for each and every one of our sins by His death on the cross; raising again the third day, He conquered death and sin. What a great salvation! By accepting His free gift of salvation, and being covered in His righteousness, one will be ready for an eternity… forever with Christ.
Such words of hope:
Luke 2:10-11 “Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord…’”
Ephesians 2:4-9 “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”