Roar. Swerve. Bump, bump, bump. On my flight home yesterday from Denver, I experienced a rougher than average ride. After a very tumultuous take off, we’d evened out for a while.
Then we hit another patch.
My stomach lurched into my throat, and I obsessively watched the map on the seatback screen in front of me.
Ground speed: 526 mph
Head Wind: 17 mph
Altitude: 38999 ft
The time and distance to Houston slowly ticked down… 495 miles, 484 miles, 461 miles, and the clock dropped minutes until our arrival at the destination.
As I pushed buttons on the screen, I saw one entitled, “From the Flight Deck.” Now this airplane was one of those mega ones normally reserved for Transatlantic travel, so I’d never seen this feature before. Apparently, the feature allows you to listen to air traffic control from your headphones, and if you hear your flight number you’d know if there was a change in course or an issue on deck.
I found this tremendously reassuring.
Like somehow knowing what was happening from 39,000 feet in the air would enable me to change anything. Bump, bump, bump. I was reminded of my complete lack of control.
My husband hates to fly. He loves the control over his own destiny driving brings. I’m getting that more these days.
We are given more and more knowledge with the rapid pace of technology. On our flights. On our weather. On our traffic. On our local and national and global news. The one consistent effect I see from this deluge of information is that we are all more fearful. The onslaught of information has rendered us terrified and nearly incapable of action because of all the dark news we’re regularly confronted with. And no matter how much more information we get, we still have no control over 90% of what’s going on. No control over what happens on our flight. No control over where the tornado touches down. No control over what building a shooter decides to target.
I grabbed my phone. I’d snapped screen shots of some verses just earlier that the day to keep handy when I was unsettled:
Psalm 31: In you, Lord, I have taken refuge… Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me. Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.
Ephesians 6: Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God… And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
Jeremiah 29: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
I write about fear a fair amount. Mainly because it’s a struggle facing me now more than ever.
I always find the solutions in His words.
The map on the seatback screen cycled through three different perspectives of our route. First, the global map depicting where we were in the world. Next up, the national map showing from Honolulu to New York. And finally, the regional picture of our flight from Denver to Houston, zooming in before the global map reappeared on our city as we approached.
In my muck of fear, focusing on the minutia of the moment, I often lose sight of the global picture.
I stared at the swaths of nighttime darkness covering Africa and Europe contrasted against the bowl of daylight starting at Australia and making its way to a conclusion at our East Coast.
I prayed for those living with imminent threats. Prayed for fresh perspective. Reminded that my fear calls into question my faith in a God who promises nothing can separate me from His love. The only security and certainty we have is in Him.
The flight radio crackled with flight numbers and requests for course deviations due to the weather. I took off my headphones. That knowledge won’t stem the fear. Knowing Him will.