I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. Psalm 57:1b
It was one of those trips involving a drive to the airport, parking, a shuttle ride, first flight, layover, changing gates, and a second flight to the ultimate destination. I was not looking forward to a whole day of traveling, but since it was a done deal, I decided to make the best of it.
Of course, the way to make the best of traveling alone is realizing that I’m not really traveling alone. Driving down the highway, sitting on the shuttle, waiting at the gate, and staring out the window of an airplane are all opportunities to pray.
(You know, “pray.” That thing we’re always saying we don’t have time to do.)
When boarding a plane without assigned seats, I usually ask God to seat me next to the person He wants me to talk with. This habit has resulted in some interesting encounters. But this particular day the seat next to me was empty.
(Or was it?)
This was one of those rare and wonderful days when I had an unusual sense of the Lord’s presence. The more I spoke with Him, the more I seemed to hear His voice. I don’t remember if I “heard” anything specific, I just remember thoroughly enjoying being with Him, and I sensed that He was enjoying being with me, as well. My favorite worship songs were playing in my head all day, and happy memories of answered prayers gave me much to thank Him for as well as encouraging me to pray more. I can’t describe how this felt, other than just an incredible sense of peace and joy that made me want to hug somebody. As I walked through the airport, an unusual number of people smiled at me and even said “hello.” It occurred to me later that this was because I was smiling!
I sat “alone” again on my second flight, a little “puddle-jumper” flying from one Michigan town to another. There were few seats, and fewer passengers, one of them a woman who had never flown before. I’m not sure how I knew that, probably something about the way she gripped the armrests and asked the person next to her a lot of questions in a trembling voice…
In mid-flight we hit a patch of extreme turbulence that made the passengers gasp in unison. (I later learned that a tornado had passed that way moments before, and the airline had had no business letting us take off.)
While the plane bounced around, I could hear the poor first-time flyer muttering, “I’ll never fly again, I’ll never fly again…”
Meanwhile, I was having the time of my life. Though I sensed no fear whatsoever, I tried to suppress a giggle for the sake of the terrified. But I was feeling something I hadn’t experienced in many years – the joy of a small child being bounced on Daddy’s knee. I knew my Father was not going to allow me to leave this earth one moment before (or after) it was my time to “go home.” And since “home” was a good place, one way or another I was perfectly safe. Even if this turned out to be the last flight of my life, that meant I could be in heaven by the end of the day! Besides, as some would point out, statistically I was much safer in that airplane than in a car on the freeway.
A fellow blogger recently posted, “Are we afraid of the wrong things?” (Yes.)
Hikers in the desert might fear a rattlesnake bite more than excessive sun exposure, but skin cancer is much more common than rattlesnake bites. – True.
A father obsessed with the fear of not performing well at his job should possibly have more concern over what is influencing his children while he is working long hours. – Also true.
A young lady obsessed with losing weight should perhaps be more fearful of her tendency toward self-destructive behaviors than a few extra pounds. – All true.
The newest form of fear these days seems to be “FOMO” – “Fear Of Missing Out” – especially with internet access 24/7. With this window to the world, the ability to communicate with anyone and everyone through messaging, videos, and pictures of what everyone else is doing can be overwhelming. Trillions of articles and advertisements of what projects we “should” be embarking on, activities we “should” be enjoying, classes we “should” be taking, parties we “should” go to, causes we “should” support, places we “should” travel to, health supplements we “should” be taking – all these can leave us with a fear that we won’t be able to cram everything into our lives that we “should” be including.
[How long is your “bucket list”?]
Of all the things that clutter our minds with reasons to fret, here’s the one thing we should really fear:
Many will reach the end of life and realize that they don’t have a relationship with the One who created them and had a purpose for their lives. How tragic it would be, at the end of a life of pursuing endless goals and avoiding our fears, to be taking our last breath and realize that, whatever we’ve “gained” in this world over our lifetime, we’ve actually missed everything.
If you suddenly find yourself concerned about this final fear, I invite you to check out the claims of Jesus Christ, who said He came to give us life abundantly. (John 10:10) He even claimed to be the only way to eternal life. (John 14:6)
(I believe Him.)
Prayer: LORD, we know it is not Your will that we should fret and be fearful about things in this world. Draw us to Yourself in an intimate relationship. Order our lives, making them what they should be. Teach us to trust You, so that, rather than living in fear, we can enjoy being the children You delight in, in Jesus’ name. Amen