Recently I was on a flight that successfully landed the second time. Yes, the second time the pilot tried to land, he successfully landed a full flight from Florida. We landed, thankfully, but wow, were we scared that first time around! I was really scared!
Just for your information: I come from a family of really scared flyers. Not rational scared flyers either, completely irrational. Let me share: growing up we drove everywhere– Florida, Maine, even Colorado and more places. My parents would say if we flew we would have to take different flights so that we all wouldn’t die on one flight. Messed up, right? They were scared! Many family members did some extreme things because they had so much fear! My brother was scheduled to go on a college reunion ski weekend, but instead got on a train to Washington DC. In his mind-numbing, irrational fright, he truly thought no one would know he skipped out on this trip. That’s how scared he was to fly. (He has since worked REALLY hard to overcome his fear and now he flies everywhere.) Another brother got on a flight for his honeymoon unaware that he had a layover. When he realized they were landing he told his new bride, “If we land, I’m getting off!” Knowing he won’t make a scene or be the center of attention she said, “Fine, tell them that you’re getting off.” Both families of the newlyweds received phone calls stating that they were fine; they were in a car driving to Florida and would call later. Click. He was, and still is, more afraid of flying than anything else. He has not been on a plane since and they’ve been married for more than two decades! So, when I state that I was afraid, I don’t use that word lightly. I mean I was not in a rational, right mind; I was irrationally afraid and downright terrified.
God has been able to help me work through this “scared of flying thing” so that I’m really only afraid of the take off and the landing. Before I had this “smaller fear,” I remember a specific flight I was on. We were flying, high, and I was praying. The clouds were large and dispersed in the sky. I was in the window seat looking out the window praying and I saw the shadow of our plane. It was really so unique, but even better I saw the shadow of our plane against the cloud with a rainbow circling around it. The rainbow was encircling our plane! I will never forget that. It was such an amazing sign to me that God had me wrapped up in a big ole’ rainbow hug.
This more recent flight was different; it was extremely windy, we had a few bumps, but not the amount of turbulence I would have thought. As we got close to our destination, the captain came on the speaker to tell us we would be having turbulence on our way down to land. He also told the staff to take a seat, it would be bumpier than they were used to as well. Landings are difficult for me, but as we prayerfully descended I was feeling such peace that I just don’t usually have at that point. I was relieved because we were about to touch down and this feeling of relief was starting to flood through my body. But then we weren’t. We were not touching down. We were not slowing down. We were speeding up. We were lifting up. We were going higher and higher. You could hear a pin drop on this fully filled flight. The babies weren’t even crying, singing or yelling. It was quiet. Everyone was scared.
I didn’t want my son to see how afraid I was, even though he still saw the fear on my face. We were back to being high in the sky circling around when the captain came on to tell us it was safer to pull up than to try to slow down and land with the wind pushing the plane to the side. It was nice to have some information about what had happened. The fear of the unknown is tough, whether it be the fear of why we didn’t land or in regular life the fear of unknown test results. It’s hard to just be and sit without answers! It’s so easy to justify our fears. So the captain circled the plane around and landed from a different direction and everyone cheered.
This situation reminds me of Peter walking on the water, when he loses focus on Jesus in Matthew 14: 27 – 32. 27 “But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ 28 ‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’ 29 ‘Come,’ he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ 31Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’ 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’ “ (NIV)
I had my eyes on Jesus, I was in prayer and felt such peace and we were about to land. (I was walking on the water.) But then I saw the wind and I was afraid. Just like Peter I doubted. It says “fear not” 365 times in the bible, one for every day. I’m not alone in my fear and anxiety but I’m thankful that I know our Lord and have His word on my heart and in my hand. I love that my Lord reminds me of different situations in my past where He has shown me love or a sign where I can revisit His faithfulness. That helps me remember that God is love. I hope you can have those same moments that you can refer to in times of being afraid. “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Matthew 14: 27.