“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Do you like to fly? I do! My first airplane ride was in November 1985 and I was four years old. I was flying to Disneyland with my Grandma, Grandpa and great-aunt. Just about the only thing I remember about the flight was having to chew gum to help my popping ears. One thing I don’t remember whether there was turbulence, but I’m sure there was some.
I love turbulence. I mean it. I LOVE TURBULENCE.
I got to thinking about that. Why in the world would I love it? Some people I’m sure…maybe even you…are reading this thinking, ‘She’s crazy cakes!’
Well, for one, I think turbulence is actually fun. It feels a bit like a carnival ride. But to me, it seems much safer than strapping myself into some rinky-dink wooden contraption they call a roller coaster that swings me upside down and creaks as I nearly pass out from g-forces and nearly fly over top of the safety (haha!) bar across my lap. Perhaps it’s because I started flying so young that I didn’t have time to nurture the fear of flying. Perhaps it’s because I know the statistics on the safety of air travel. But I do know that I trust the pilot when I fly. I assume that he has experienced turbulence many times before and he’s a pro. Somehow that’s enough.
It’s baffling, really.
I don’t know why, but in His grace and mercy, there have been a few definite times in my spiritual life where the Lord has warned me of turbulence ahead.
But instead of being excited and happy about the bumpy ride ahead, my heart sinks. I dread it. Sometimes I actually begin to feel afraid. I have to make a conscious effort to trust the Lord.
WHY IS THAT?
I mean, I can trust a pilot and co-pilot that I have never met in my life to land a huge piece of metal that defies gravity over thousands of miles, but struggle to trust the Savior of my soul? Someone Who has repeatedly proven His capability to do absolutely anything?
THAT, my friends, is truly baffling.
Unlike the airline pilot that flew me to Anaheim that day in 1985, who I likely never saw again, I personally know the Lord. Intimately. We talk every day. He leads and guides me.
In fact, it occurred to me that I first committed my life to the Lord the same month and year that I took that first airplane ride when I was just four years old. I walked away from the Lord in my late teens, but He called after my heart over and over and I returned Him in March 2003. Never more to roam.
You know what? We can each look at our individual lives as a big, long, turbulent airplane ride. It’s like God the Father and God the Son, Jesus, are the pilot and co-pilot of my life-plane. They are veiled behind the door to the cockpit. They are steering and directing my life. At times they call over the speaker to remind me to return my seat to the upright position and to buckle up. They may tell me what the condition is outside. The Holy Spirit, also known as “The Comforter” is like my flight attendant. He is the most visible to me. He interacts with me, gives me safety instructions along the way and literally comforts me when needed. He brings the extra pillow and blanket when I am having a hard night. He brings the ginger ale for my upset stomach or just because it sounds good. He warmly smiles at me. And it is He Who demonstrates how to safely maneuver the “what if’s” that lie ahead.
When you personally know the pilot, in theory, it should be easy to trust him for the safest possible outcome. Two of my uncles are private pilots and I feel completely at ease with the idea of flying with either of them. It’s been years, but when flying with my uncle, I am exhilarated by the ride, enjoy the view, and completely trust my pilot.
The Lord has, ever so gently, been pointing out the great disparity in my reaction to Him as my pilot versus that of any human pilot I have needed to trust in my life to get from Point A to Point B.
Now, granted. Our family has had its share of “turbulence” lately. And the Lord, in His grace and mercy gave me little warnings along the way.
One particular Wednesday night in January is one of those specific times. We had a really great Bible study that night and I went to the the altar. As I began to pour my heart out to Him about a lot of things, really, I was keenly aware of my lingering broken heart from the loss of our little foster daughter who was back in her birth mother’s care. I had often over the previous seven months re-committed her to the Lord and pray for her safety and that night I was doing that very thing.
Then, what seemed to be out of nowhere, the Lord brought back a very clear vision He had given me at a Camp meeting when I was about 11 years old. I was walking on a very narrow path with a huge cliff on my left and a sheer drop-off on my right. The Lord spoke very clearly to me that evening and said that He was in the canyon — that instinctively I would want to cling to the physical wall I felt and saw, but that He was in the nothingness and that I would need to trust Him and walk on the edge closest to Him. Even if people thought I was crazy. Even if I thought I was crazy!
Somehow, that encounter didn’t freak me out like you might expect.
My hands are quite full with both of our children, one of whom is considered “special needs.” Yet, on Christmas break, the Lord had asked us to foster again and our names were back in the hat.
That very next night, Thursday, January 29, we were ask to take in two little boys who had never been in care before. They moved in on Tuesday, February 3. Twenty days later we got the call our sweet foster baby, now just under 2 years old, was back in care and we were asked to take her. In less than three weeks, we went from a family of four to a family of seven…with one bathroom.
We were just getting into the rhythm of enjoying that happy chaos, when it seemed our world came crashing in all around us. Some things surfaced about our eldest son. Immediately he was deemed “line of sight” which means just that. He has to be in our sight at all times. In addition, we were told that we were being investigated for neglect. We were devastated.
We became isolated overnight. We felt like we couldn’t talk to anyone, and to a point, we couldn’t until the 30-60 day investigation was done. It was awful. However, the Lord was so present. I knew that He was piloting the plane in those long, difficult, lonely days. The Comforter sent phone calls from friends, cards in the mail, and laid us heavy on many hearts who would pray for us.
The days dragged on. Our two foster boys were moved to another home to help us manage our own strict safety plan with more ease. And after what seemed like forever, the investigation was indeed closed as “unfounded.”
I still praise the Lord for bringing us out unharmed. We truly felt like the Hebrew children coming out of the fiery furnace. There was no smell of smoke on our clothes, but the ropes that bound us were burned clean off.
Looking back, I would take that trial again. Don’t get me wrong. It was HARD. But I became so much closer to the Lord during that time than ever before. And once again, He was teaching me to trust Him in the midst of turbulence.
The other night, Shane and I were happily discussing the blessing another couple received from the Lord. The husband just recently got saved and I made the comment that it’s just like the Lord to pour out His blessings on a home where He finally has free reign! Kind of like a, “You’re on the right track! Keep going!” blessing.
Shane chortled that we seemed to rarely get the “you’re on the right track” blessings and rather get the “just trust Me” blessings. No. Joke.
But, I guess until I get excited to ride the turbulence with the Lord, that kind will continue. (Sorry, Honey.) When we have a smooth flight without any turbulence, sometimes we forget that there’s a pilot keeping us safe up there in that cockpit. The Lord wants us to know He is there and that He’s got this.
As Christians, we all…every one of us….face turbulence. How do you react when you hear the Lord say, “Buckle up, Kiddo. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride!”
In the Scripture above, Jesus is telling His disciples, past and present, that very thing. In the days we live, it’s no wonder or surprise that we will face tribulation, trial and turbulence. But Jesus says to “be of good cheer!” We can actually still enjoy this flight, even when turbulent times come.
Our destination in near. Very near.
Blessings and much love,