It’s not a big secret to those who know me well that I absolutely hate flying. It’s not the lines, the tight seating, or the occasionally rude airline staff. It’s fear. Every bump and dip has me white knuckling the arm rests. As the plane descends and we get closer the that runway my breathing evens out and with touchdown my muscles relax again. Some flights are better than others, but I never love boarding a plane.
A few months ago I had to fly to Tennessee to speak at an event. The two flights to get there, while short, were some of my worst. We first took off in the middle of a thunderstorm and never flew out of the rough weather. The ride was bumpy and jolting. My palms were wet and my heart was thundering out of my chest. I wanted desperately to talk to someone to get my mind off the flight, but to my great annoyance the man seated next to me was sound asleep (and had been the entire flight… the nerve.) So I took out my Bible to read something comforting but I could not focus on the words. Eventually I grabbed my notebook and started journaling some thoughts. I was a little surprised at what I wrote when I read over it later.
You see, when I fly my preference is the window seat. There is something very comforting to me about looking out that tiny window to see the clouds as a steady white line below us. When the plane feels like it’s lurching and dipping and bumping it’s way through the sky, I can look out and see we are cruising just fine – that white line is steady and straight below. In my moments of greatest fear I look out the window and see that all is fine regardless of how rough things feel. But lately all I’ve had are isle seats. Sometimes my seatmates like to look out the window too, and I can look past them at that white line of clouds when I need to. But usually I’m seated next to seasoned business men who do this every week and just want to sleep through the flight. They board, the shade goes down, and I’m left blind. In the dark. Unable to look out when I want that comfort that everything is okay. Or sometimes the window is left open but we’re flying through the clouds instead of over them and my visibility is blocked again. It’s rough, bumpy, and I can’t see if everything is okay or not. These are my moments of greatest fear, and my moments of deepest faith.
My life has followed this pattern more than not. God doesn’t give me a telescope into my future. I have no idea how tomorrow will turn out. Sometimes the sun is shining, everything is fine, and I look out the window to see puffy white clouds and know I’m doing alright. But often I start flying and the shade is drawn or I’m heading through the clouds and I cannot see. How will this turn out? Will this crash and burn and fail miserably? Will my heart be broken? Will things be okay? And those are the moments in flight that I have to trust through my fear that God is just as able. The reality is that my trust is not in my visibility or in a steady line of puffy clouds… but in the One who made the clouds and me and my life. The One who makes my flight path both bumpy and smooth and sometimes re-routes me and always brings me home safely… even if it wasn’t my original definition of “safe” or “home.”
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