I loathe flying. I actually get physically sick. Perhaps you’ve seen me. I’m the one with her head between her legs for the duration of the flight, and believe me it’s not easy to do, especially when you’re sitting in coach. If I detest flying that much, why do I so often live my life “flying by the seat of my pants?”
How easily I can be whipped into a frenzy, an anxious fearful fit, just by answering a phone call, opening up a piece of mail or getting cut off on the road. And please don’t try to be a “good friend” to me by relating what-so-and-so said about me. It’s slander, it’s gossip, and (the real reason I don’t want to know)… it’s about ME! I need my sleep!
I have learned that if I don’t hit the brakes right as soon as turbulence begins, my mind starts crying out, “Lions and tigers and bears, O my!” instead of “Jesus, Son of the Living God, save me!”
An article appeared in USA Today that stated airplane turbulence isn’t as dangerous as it may seem. It isn’t going to bring down your plane! It can, however, prompt fears that the airplane will go out of control or be damaged. And as with most fears, knowledge is the antidote.
Something is wrong when we react to life’s sudden air pockets like pagans and a people without God. It’s an interesting fact that the command repeated most often throughout Scriptures is “be not afraid,” or its close grammatical relative, “do not fear.” The command not to fear, given to us by God, is repeated even more times throughout the 73 books, than the command to love. That should tell you something!
Just like flying, life is full of unforeseen turbulence, and “out of the blue” bumpy rides. And there is no “easy button” to press. (Or is there? “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest…You will find rest for yourselves; for my yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Mt 11:28).)
Jesus tells us, “I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” (Jn 16:33) The real question is: Do we believe him?
Less than a year ago my family was flying high (figuratively). We were going along smoothly when we hit unexpected turbulence. My husband was admitted to the hospital for a routine procedure, or so we thought. Before I could finish my cup of tea in the waiting room, he was back down from OR with the doctor telling us he needed open heart surgery. You can be sure my plane was shaking violently with extreme turbulence! We immediately called all our holy friends and went before the Lord in prayer.
St. Paul tells us about it, “…The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:5-7).
When they were wheeling my husband in for his surgery, I received a tremendous grace. I knew God had granted me “the peace that surpasses all understanding” that St. Paul speaks about. While in the hospital waiting room, I could have been sitting in my own living room eating Chinese food and watching my favorite movie, crazy as it sounds. My spirit was filled with the peace of Christ. Who could explain it? It was a gift from heaven. And I know it was just a spark of the peaceful fire of the Lord, that “peace that surpasses all understanding.” The Lord means what he says!
So I encourage you to look for that peace, ask for it and expect it, especially during turbulent or fearful times. “And finally…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you” (Phil 4:8-9)
Godspeed—and may you always have a safe landing!