I took my seat in the small commuter plane, my view of the tarmac hindered by the craft’s propeller. Sitting three rows in from the door, no one sat in front of me – the other 8 passengers were all seated further back (feeling safer over the wings, I suppose).
As we took flight, we bounced around a bit – no surprise considering the wind that always blows so vigorously in the region we were leaving behind. One passenger in particular came to my mind as we sought to find smooth air – a young man who had seemed particularly nervous as he boarded, asking questions of the flight attendant that I hadn’t overheard. I felt for him as I remembered my own flight experiences over the years, and then I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep.
Turbulence happens. When you choose to fly, you run the risk of unstable air from time to time. Rookie passengers feel every bump and drop as if it signals their end, but you can always spot the veteran – asleep or engrossed in a book even before cruising altitude is reached. Airborne over the Rockies this weekend, it hit me that turbulence is something that makes me Want What I’ve Got.
Life is a lot like air travel, and not everyone buys a ticket. Some are so afraid of flying that they will opt out of life’s opportunities in order to avoid their discomfort and fear. Feet firmly planted on the ground, many will buy into the illusion that to live is to be safe – safe from risk, safe from potential harm, safe from the unknown.
What we miss when we opt for safety-at-all-costs is the indescribable joy that is available only to those who risk it all to fully live!
When I was a fresh young twenty-something, I arrived at the lake a little too late to join my sailing group, already en route to a picnic-friendly beach across the water. They had left a boat behind – a small Sunfish daysailer – but I had never actually rigged a boat all by myself.
I don’t know how long I contemplated my options before I went for it – managing to rig that boat like a boss (as my son would say)! I climbed in and set sail alone with a grin stretched across my face and some lovely wind filling my modest sail. I reached the opposite shore before some of my group did, and I can honestly say I have never felt so equipped to live as I did on that defining summer day.
Toward the end of His earthly life, Jesus told His friends that, in spite of everything that was about to transpire, “I’m not abandoned. The Father is with me. I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” (John 16:32b-33 MSG)
In this godless world, you and I will suffer. In the words of the pilot of the plane I am on, “occasional bumps will occur.” Unstable air is a byproduct of living in a broken world, but as children of God, we can rest unshaken because the bumps that toss us around cannot hurt us – not as long as we take heart and take flight with the One who has conquered it all.
You may not Want What You’ve Got when the challenges come – in this you are not alone. But maybe it’s high time you realize that peace doesn’t come from not taking risks… It comes from trusting Jesus as you board the plane.
So, if you’re experiencing turbulence today, remember it’s because you dared to fly.
Daily Questions: When was the last time you experienced turbulence in the air? What thoughts went through your mind as you were buckled into that airplane seat? What kinds of turbulence are you experiencing today – on the ground? What do Jesus’ words in John 16 say to you in the midst of the unstable circumstances of your life?