I’m not sure how many cities I’ve been in over the last several months, but including all the layovers, I’m sure it was a bunch more than I wanted to be in.
It’s not that I don’t like the actual cities; it’s just that most of the time it is a plane that takes me to those cities. And I’m not a fan of the plane.
A few years ago I was on a flight and the plane was making a weird noise. I asked the flight attendant what it was and she had insufficient information for me. So I did what any rational person would do and asked the plane to turn around from the runway and take me back to the gate. Everyone pretty much loved me as I did the walk of shame, apologizing to anyone who dared to make eye contact with the freak of nature who had single-handedly ensured at least 15 missed connections at the next airport.
As most of you know, I tend to struggle with fear.
I’ve done a lot of soul searching over the past year, because when I get off the plane in a new city, it means I’m going to have to get on a big stage in that new city. I’m also not a fan of the big stage.
God certainly has a sense of humor, no?
Generally speaking, I do okay on planes as long as a) I can see the ground b)it’s a super smooth flight c) it’s daytime d) there are no storms anywhere remotely close, and e) I’m by a window.
I have learned that the checklist doesn’t do much good, because they shuffle you on too fast to have a sit-down with the pilots and look at maps and such. My friend (and equally phobic) Natalie Grant and I are fans of websites that document weather patterns and predict turbulence. It’s kind of pitiful, actually.
A few weeks ago I was on a flight that (barely) met 2 of my 5 requirements, and as we took off we hit a patch of less than desirable weather. I grabbed the sides of my seats and started praying.
“Get above it, get above it, get above it…” I whispered. I always do, but I hadn’t really realized it until this particular flight. Usually once you’re out of the clouds it settles down a little, and I was banking on that to survive the feeling of diving headfirst into a tornado. I’m pretty sure everyone else was as scared as I was, and they just talked and laughed and read their books to make it look like they were calm. Whatever.
I started practicing the verses I’m memorizing, and begged God for mercy. I was keenly aware of the fact that my breathing was more gasping, and I asked the Lord to help me breathe, help me remember who He is, and to know His power in the moment where I had nothing of my own to offer.
After about 3 hours (or 10 minutes. The details are fuzzy), we got above the clouds. The ding announced we were able to move about the cabin and I wiped my sweaty hands on my jeans. I grabbed a magazine and asked for a diet coke.
It was pretty good until the way down. I tend to do better descending because it isn’t, you know, defying gravity. So I kind of feel like I’m cooperating with nature instead of trying to rage against it. It’s logical to me.
The pilot announced that it was going to be a little bumpy on the way down (cue hysteria). He asked the flight attendants to take their seats early because of the concern for injury. I don’t remember exactly what he said but what I heard was, “Sayonara suckers. Your feet won’t touch ground again.”
With my forehead stuck to the window, I stared at the light on the end of the wing and prayed. It was really cloudy, and every few seconds we would hit an air pocket and feel like we were dropping fast.
“Get below it, get below it, get below it…” Again I mouthed the words, hardly looking up when the flight attendant motioned for my nearly full drink. I looked at her for a split second and then went back to my post. I compare this feeling to what Todd must feel when he’s yelling full throttle at a Michigan football game. His voice doesn’t change the outcome, but it sure feels like it might in the moment.
We did land without any major incident, and as I rode over to the hotel I could feel my body start to calm down. I thought about how hard this season in my life is because I’m smack dab against the window of my fears and it does take a toll on me. While I don’t feel like I have ever heard the Lord audibly, I certainly feel when He has spoken. While I was lamenting my struggle, I realized something He had planted in me, and I’ve been processing it ever since.
“When do you pray, Angie?”
I thought back to the flight. I prayed when I was in the clouds, when the plane was bumping around and unpredictable.
I pray in the clouds.
When my own little list of requirements is met, I don’t cry out to Him the same way. Yes, I pray…but not like I do in the clouds.
And whether or not we are in planes, we are all most certainly in clouds.
There are those rough pockets of life where it feels like our thoughts are only to get out of the rough pockets. And we might miss the communion that happens at 30,000 feet if we allow ourselves to.
And all the while, our human nature shouts, “Get above it! get below it! get me out of here!” There’s nothing wrong with feeling like you wish a hard season would pass, but I do believe there are treasures we might otherwise miss if we don’t know Him there, in the bumps and the chaos.
Let Him reveal His power when you have none. For control freaks like myself, it’s an exercise in humility. Where is an area of your life where you could shift your focus a little and instead of shouting about where you wish you were, you could surrender and see Him exactly where you are? I’m praying His peace washes over you in the coming days, and that you see His face anew as you trust Him to get you through the storm as only He can.
By: Angie Smith, Bring the Rain