Peace at 30,000 feet

Not long ago, my husband registered for a purpose driven church planting seminar in Ocala, Florida. We live in Oregon and there are very few things that scare me more than flying.

If you have ever met my husband, you know he can be very persuasive. He can motivate people to do just about anything and his enthusiasm and passion are infectious. He has such a heart for unchurched people and as soon as I heard him talking about this seminar, I knew I was in big trouble.

He would expect me to come with him and to do that I would have to get on an airplane. So there was only one thing left to do – just tell him there was no way that he and God were going to make that happen. When he gently pointed out that I was acting like a faithless, fearful, negative, paranoid chicken, he was right. But I didn’t care. There was no way I was getting on that plane!

A few months later my husband was on the flight to Florida – with the paranoid chicken right beside him. (I told you he was persuasive.) It might have been the few days of vacationing in Florida or the trip to Disney World (a first for me). In truth, I think it was when he looked into my eyes and said, “Honey, we are a team and I can’t do this without you” that I caved.

So I said yes. Yes, to what I believed would be painful incineration followed by certain death in a fiery crash caused by the crazed terrorist suicide bomber sitting next to me. And why don’t they put parachutes in the seat cushions instead of flotation devices – especially on a flight from Oregon to Florida?

It was comforting to know that my husband would be sitting beside me holding my hand as we crashed and burned our way into eternity - comforting, but not much help. His question to me was” Honey, why would God call us into ministry just to take us home to be with him?” It was a good question for a rational person but it meant nothing to a faithless, fearful, negative, paranoid chicken.

I had tried to prepare him for my extreme terror of flying. But it wasn’t until we were on the plane that he discovered how all consuming my fear was. I started shaking as soon as we entered the tunnel of death that led from the terminal to the plane. An overwhelming sense of dread crept over me as we boarded. Visions of mid-air explosions and bodies burnt beyond recognition flooded my mind as I strapped myself securely into the death tube – my thoughts spiraling out of control.

As we began to taxi down the runway and the plane picked up speed, I heard the roar of the engines and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Then I started to hyperventilate and went into some sort of frozen trance-like state as my mind escaped from my soon-to-die body to another place. How did I voluntarily subject myself to such terror?

Suddenly, it hit me – a terrifying thought that shook my entire body, “I have no control over this situation. My fate is in the hands of a pilot I do not know.” So I sputtered out this short prayer, “Please help me God, for I am completely overwhelmed by this fear.”

In that moment Gods presence became so real to me. It was like falling back over a cliff and suddenly finding my self enfolded in the Father’s loving arms. The fear poured out as his perfect peace filled me completely. I could hear him speaking into my mind, “I am in control. Your life is in my hands and I have a purpose for you.”

As we landed in Florida, I was still holding my husband’s hand but it was no longer the death grip of a terror filled wife. I doubt if I will ever really “enjoy” flying but next time I will remember to place my trust in the pilot of my soul. Jesus is at the control panel in the cockpit of my heart everyday. He will always get us to our final destination and is the only source of peace at 30,000 feet.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:7


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