Detours of Life

Detours of Life

Ken Shaw

It was a mild December 26 afternoon when my wife and I departed from the Orlando International Airport.  We were heading home to enjoy a few quiet days prior to the beginning of the spring semester.  It wasn’t long after we took off when the captain made a brief announcement that there was “weather” around Fort Worth and they would be monitoring it closely.  Later, I felt the plane making a hard right turn and soon thereafter the pilot informed us that our plane was being placed in a holding pattern until the weather cleared over the airport.  I continued to watch the flight path on the screen in front of me and observed how we began making large oval loops.  After a couple of hours and 5 or more loops later, the pilot announced that the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport was diverting all the planes in our holding pattern to different airports for the night.  Our detour took us to Little Rock, Arkansas.  Upon landing, we realized there were more planes than gates so we sat on the tarmac for nearly 3 hours before a gate became available.  We joined thousands of tired people in the terminal, all awaiting their luggage, as many of the luggage handlers had ended their shifts and gone home for the night.  Once we got our luggage, we headed to a hotel for a short night’s rest before returning to the long lines at the airport the next morning. 

Though this detour was not in our plans, it was our reality.  We witnessed two very different kinds of people on this detour.  We observed fellow passengers and desk attendants who, though stressed by the events, were smiling, kind, and very helpful.  Unfortunately, we experienced several angry people.  One man in particular was yelling, screaming and demanding that his needs be met.

My wife and I took the delay in good stride.  Realizing that detours can provide opportunities to experience something new, we were inspired by a story we heard from our taxi driver.  I found it interesting to see a Bible on his dash and one next to him as he drove; we quickly realized he had a love for people.  He shared how he was at the right place at the right time during one of his shifts and was able to help a suicidal person from jumping off a bridge.  He went on to say that we are often put in the right place at the right time for something significant to happen.  Maybe the detour in Little Rock was designed for me.  I needed to hear the taxi driver’s story about how he paused and took time to help someone.

At Southwestern Adventist University our mission of inspiring knowledge, faith, and service through Christ-centered education keeps us focused on preparing our students for the world that is awaiting them, equipping them to deal with the detours that will come their way. With our varied academic programs, our students are developing a broad base of knowledge and skills needed to maneuver through our ever-changing society. Our commitment to maintaining an environment where faith has room to grow will enable our students to adapt to the detours life throws at them with grace and calmness.  Our drive to mentor our students for lives of service will inspire them to use the detours as opportunities to reach out to those in need even though the original plan was altered. 

This article is an opinion piece written by President Shaw for the Cleburne Times Review.