Wm. Douglas Van Devender © 2010

I parked my car in the Birmingham airport long-term parking. I would be away for a few days and that distant lot was the least expensive. I had to wait several minutes for the shuttle bus to arrive. The humidity-laden summer heat was stifling. I wondered how folks were doing in Colorado Springs?

By the time the van arrived, I was soaked with sweat. The driver loaded my bag into the back while I wedged into the last remaining seat. I held my computer bag in my lap. The air conditioning wasn’t working well, and the dozen travelers were packed miserably  together.

We started to move. The African-American man pressed against my right side turned and asked, “How ya’ll doin’?”

I reflexively responded, “Fine. How ‘bout you?”


We all fell silent, trying to breathe as the stuffy bus wound its way out of Long Term Parking.


My answer had been perfunctory. I was a product of Southern civility. I would have said fine if I had been hemorrhaging my last pint of blood.

A friend had recently counseled me to choose my language carefully. Be honest. Be accurate. Be precise. “Language is powerful when properly used,” he declared. And I had no reason to disagree with him.

I could do better. I would do better. I would answer again.

I turned to the gentleman next to me, “A minute ago you asked me how I am doing? I said, fine. But that is not what I should have said.” I could feel every eye in the van on me. Those ahead craned their necks to get a look at me.

“What I should have said is, ‘I am BLESSED! I am God’s creation and I enjoy his presence and favor wherever I go. My life is complicated and challenging, but I AM blessed.”

I had not anticipated the effect my second response to his question would have. Everyone relaxed and smiled.

“Lord yes, me too.”

“Uh huh.”

“Oh, yeah.”

Suddenly the listless group came alive. There was general agreement that God’s blessings were available and being enjoyed.

My original questioner nodded vigorously as he introduced me to his accompanying son. “Do you know that yesterday my son and I were driving along the freeway in Birmingham and our right front tire blew out. The car swerved to the right, ran off the payment and rolled three times down the embankment.”

There were oo’s and ah’s and expressions of concern.

“The car was totaled. I mean, they couldn’t even tow it. But we walked away without a scratch.” There was spontaneous applause.

A women in the back spoke of a family problem that God had helped her through. There were general expressions of gratitude.

A stream of mini-reports flowed, telling of challenging life situations and troubling events. Each testimony concluded with the recognition that God had been present–God had cared—God had intervened.

We pulled up to the terminal. I crawled awkwardly from the van and retrieved my bag. Then I noticed  no one was rushing for their flight.  Instead, there were smiles and blessings to go. Rich and poor. Young and old. Black and white.

All partakers in the Divine blessing. All–for a just a moment–dispensers of the Divine blessing.

All because of a different choice of words.

Honest. Accurate. Precise. Words.

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