Last Friday morning, a man named Brian Howard set fire to an FAA radar facility in Aurora, Illinois. He then attempted to commit suicide, but he lived. As more information is revealed about Howard’s motives, largely exposed in a Facebook message he sent prior to his actions, we seek to understand how his desperation could have brought him to this place. What caught my attention was Howard’s words in the post stating, “The outage I’m about to take should not take a large toll on the air space as all comms should be switched to the alt location which will most likely cause some delays.” This prediction turned about to be dramatically far from the truth.
My life, along with the lives of thousands of others, was affected by Howard’s actions. I was stranded in North Carolina, and could not get home to Chicago in time for a flight to Orlando where I was scheduled to participate in a very significant recommissioning service. Thankfully, I was rerouted, costing me time and money. My friend was also delayed an extra day, struggling to return to Chicago where her elderly mom had taken a bad fall and could not understand where her daughter was. We represent a tiny fraction of all the stories. No doubt travelers were trying to get to funerals, weddings, key business meetings, and vacations. Thousands of flights were cancelled, and the FAA does not expect normal operations at O’Hare airport to resume until October 13.
Clearly Brian Howard had no idea and still does not fully grasp the level of havoc he caused. There were massive ripple effects to his own tragic choices. I have been reflecting that on a perhaps somewhat smaller scale, most of us underestimate the possible ripple effects to our own choices every day. The choice to encourage a stranger, to send an e-mail to a wandering soul, to say YES to a new opportunity for service, to say I’M SORRY and seek reconciliation. If only we could pull way back and look at our lives and all the interconnections with other human beings from a heavenly perspective. We would live differently. We would abandon our casual attitudes that sometimes assume it just doesn’t matter all that much. Because we really have no idea.
In Ephesians 2 God tells us that He has divine assignments for each one of us – tasks that were destined for us from the beginning of time. Today I choose to pay more attention. To try not to miss any of the little choices on God’s agenda for me that might make a greater impact than I could possibly know.