Sunday, September 20, 2009

Turbulent learning

I’ve been blessed to travel on commercial airlines quite a bit in my lifetime thus far. I won’t say it’s one of my favorite ways to get from the proverbial point a to point b, but you simply can’t beat it for speed when it works efficiently.

I’ve flown in various kinds of weather – snow, rain, thunderstorms – and on varying sized planes. Whether they were little commuters, with two seats on one side of the aisle and one on the other to make a row, or 10 seats across completed with two rows, all of them have made me feel as if I was being hurled by Hercules through the air in a tube.

Today was no exception.

The commuter flight from Philadelphia to Memphis was filled to capacity. The guy beside me was a bit bigger than me and didn’t have a problem taking up his seat and part of mine (in addition to the arm rest that was supposed to divide our space). Although I was far from comfortable sitting by the window (a spot I don’t normally choose and I wasn’t at liberty to change), I tried to make the best of it by concentrating on the Beth Moore book I had started on the trip up on Wednesday.

Completing the book before arriving at our destination, I was looking out the window at the cloud coverage when our pilot’s voice came over the PA system reminding us to keep our seat belts securely fastened.

Although the pilot was anticipating turbulence the pilot never slowed down. In fact when it did get bumpy, he seemed to be flying wide open through it. The plane weaved and bobbed, but the pilot never seemed to take his foot off the gas pedal (I’m assuming planes have gas pedals like cars – I honestly don’t know). He never slowed up.

I couldn’t see the pilot’s hands at that moment, but I sat there imagining that he was gripping the steering wheel with both of them. I doubt it was a “white knuckle” moment for him, though. I’m certain he had logged some air time in worse weather than we were experiencing on that September Sunday afternoon. Instead, I’m sure his hands were poised in the same sort of confidence he exudes while sitting in that seat on any given day.

Most likely the pilot just placed faith in the aircraft to operate in the manner in which it was built.

In my mind – and a short time jotting it down later in the back of my Beth Moore book (the only paper I had available at the time) – I drew an analogy of our lives and the flight while looking out the window from seat 7A.

I will be honest. I wasn’t totally at ease during the last moments of that flight. But I wasn’t frightened to the point that I wanted to cry out to God to rescue us from the weather conditions although I always tend to fervently pray without ceasing whenever I’m seated in an airliner.

Instead, I thought about some of the bumps I’d flown through in my own life in the past few years. Some of them were truly difficult to maneuver. With some of them I had to rely on skill to navigate through them while others I just had to choose raw courage and strength.

The turbulence affecting our plane Sunday was brief and we were jetting through smooth skies the rest of the way to the airport. I’ve learned to realize the turbulence that rocks my personal world from time to time is often just as brief and I soon find a smooth pocket of airspace in which to set the course of my life on again.

Yep, I honestly prefer the smooth sailing over the bumpy rides in life. But it’s in those rougher times that I recall who truly is piloting the vessel. And I again let go, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride a bit more by allowing Him to have complete control.

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