On a recent airline flight, I chose to sit in an exit row seat.
I hadn’t planned to. I knew that boarding at the end of the second group would limit my aisle seat possibilities. That’s why I was surprised when the aisle seat of the two seat row in front of the “real” exit row was vacant.
The flight attendant made sure that I was able bodied and willing to help in case of an emergency.
How able bodied did I need to be? I regularly carry multiple bags of groceries into the house balancing them while I reach for the door handle without dropping the eggs. Did that make me able bodied?
I read the instruction sheet while the flight attendant was watching.
No responsibility shirker here.
Then it hit me. If I help everyone off the plane, I am the last one to leave. Suddenly, this exit row responsibility took on new meaning. I was putting my life on the line.
Isn’t that what Jesus asks us to do every day? Lay down your life. Put someone else's pressing need before yours. Be exit row help for others.
There isn’t a better season to share exit row help than now. November through December ramps up the effects of health issues, family dysfunction, or over-scheduling. Grief makes a person fly on one engine when they were meant for two. People need exit row helpers to lift a hand, lend an ear, or just give them confidence to take the next step. It doesn’t always mean rescuing someone from a life-threatening disaster. Exit row helpers are sanity savers as well. They share help that would be difficult for someone to give themselves. They restore I-can-do-this confidence to someone who needs it.
I’ve had people sit in an exit row for me. I remember a Christmas Eve in St. Louis when Lisa began to have health issues that threatened to change all our plans. Four women sat in the exit row for me. They promised to carry a corner of Lisa's "mat" and take her to Jesus (see Luke 5:17-19) when fear paralyzed me. I also remember the Christmas we spent with Lisa in the hospital recovering from a serious heart infection. My friend shared her Christmas dinner complete with china! Talk about preparing a table before an enemy! Exit row help for sure!
God is still asking me to sit in an exit row. He will choose the people in need; I don’t have to hunt for them. All I have to do is keep myself spiritually able-bodied and sensitive to His prompts so that I can point people in need to His bigger help.
What about you? Are you ready to sit in an exit row?