With a maximum cruising speed of 600 mph and weighing nearly 250 tons, a jet airplane is nothing short of a miracle in the sky. I mean, really – don’t you look out the little window in awe as the aircraft hovers above the clouds? It seems impossible and magnificent, yet also a bit scary.
Yes, it scares me to fly. I love to fly, but I’ve watched too many movies and seen more than my share of CNN headlines to be completely at ease with it. I love rushing through airports and the feeling of leaving my small corner of the world to be somewhere else; someplace exotic or vastly different in landscape, culture and time. But at the same time, a dreaded fear always comes over me.
So, I pray. I pray a lot of simple, “Help me, Jesus” prayers. “Be the eyes and hands for the pilots and take us safely to our destination.” And sometimes, I just whisper the name of Jesus, multiple times to make sure it’s covered.
For some odd reason, I’m only fearful when we take off. The rapid heartrate, sweaty palms and Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, are forgotten by the time we reach cruising altitude. And then I watch and marvel at the surrealism of being in the air. I surrender to the majesty of being totally dependent on the character of God, and the powerlessness that we have…except through Him. And I am still.
I think about God while we float above the clouds, in and out of the mysterious white. I imagine being able to reach out and touch their soft, billowy forms. Looking out towards the horizon, there’s nothing in that space it seems but me and the other passengers. And God.
I feel close to Him in places like that – like high up in the mountains. Or in the quiet of dawn. Or in some ancient city that most only dream or read about, like Rome. On a lake, a lonely country road, by a crackling autumn campfire. I know He’s always there with me, even in the ordinary, the excruciatingly ho-hum moments of each day here – here in the heat of the midwest, among the farmers, the housewives, and even the homeless, the drug addicts, the teenage boys wielding guns to become “men”.
I know that I don’t have to travel thousands of miles to find Him, to see and feel Him. I know this to be true. But it’s in those times that I leave behind the noise of everyday life that I become more keenly aware of His presence. It’s the perfect distraction, to step outside of the routine, the schedule, the laundry and groceries and bickering boys. When there is no agenda before me, but rather an empty space to consider adventure or even just listen to the nothingness while my eyes take in the beauty of His creation – that’s when I feel close to God.
And He says to me, to all of us…”Be still and know that I am God.” We can do that anywhere, anytime. It doesn’t require an airplane. Just be still. For a moment, for a minute, for an hour. For the awe of who He is…to replace the fear, the lonliness, the boredom, the brokenness. Be still. Because you know that He is God. Be still.
I can’t travel on an airplane today, But I can be still. I can look out my window at the drops of rain resting on the last leaves of summer. And see the birds clamoring for a perch on the feeder as the cats salivate from inside the kitchen window. I can contemplate all that God is, was and will be in my life and thank Him and praise Him and just know – He. Is. God.