Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Trusting God Through the Turbulence

Our family loves Disney World. My husband is so Mickey-crazed that, as soon as one Disney trip is coming to a close, he is feverishly plotting our next visit. We just returned from our most recent trek to the most magical place on earth, and I feel quite certain he could tell you at any given moment how many days we have left until we are breathing Disney air once again. Mickey Mouse waffles, twirling tea cups, Dole whips, parades, princesses, the Jungle Cruise, Ohana, fireworks. You name it; we love it.

The only downside to our frequent Disney expeditions is getting there. I long for the day when some rocket scientist invents a safe way to "beam" ourselves to the castle. But for now, we must rely on travel by car or plane. Both have their alluring and undesirable qualities. Commuting by car allows for more luggage and more freedom to schedule the trip as you please, even though there are moments when you feel like time is standing still while your children whine and squirm in the backseat. Traveling by plane is (usually) more time-efficient, but you are forced to pack your bags to the gills and operate on the timetable of the all-powerful airline.

For our most recent trip, we chose to fly. I am the worst kind of flyer. I would probably make a very good poster child for Dramamine when it comes to air travel. To make things exponentially worse on this particular flight, the weather was not at its best. As a matter of fact, our departure was delayed two hours or so because our plane was behind schedule as a result of the less-than-suitable elements. I will also admit to being one of the nerds that genuinely pays attention to the flight attendants while they quickly explain the emergency procedures, while praying that I will actually remember to fasten the oxygen mask to my face before frantically strapping it on my daughter. That goes against every fiber in my mommy being.

I was already very nervous about flying in general, but as we were catapulted into the sky, my fears were compounded. Our ascent into the clouds was not as smooth as I would have liked, and there were several bumps and dips that sent me into panic mode. Jason and I had decided before entering the plane that he would sit next to Eden and I would be Caroline's buddy, seeing as there were no rows with four seats all together. This posed a problem for me because, in my terror, I really needed to squeeze the life out of his hand. Caroline was not much of a comfort to me. As a matter of fact, she was cool as a little cucumber throughout the entire flight. I'm still not sure she even realized that she was thousands of miles in the air. All she knew was that Mama was next to her and Daddy and Eden were right in front of her, and that's all she needed to know.

I, on the other hand, prayed myself through the flight. There were several times when my stomach did flip flops and I secretly built my case for renting a car to drive home at the end of the week instead of subjecting myself to more anxiety. I also noticed that I felt much more secure when I could see the landscape beneath us instead of endless clouds. I reasoned that falling from 10,000 feet would be much less traumatic and/or deadly than falling from 40,000 feet. Please don't tell me if I'm wrong.

If possible, the descent was worse than take-off. As we headed back down, the pilot banked left and then right to get the plane in position to land. That was the moment I almost reached for the little white bag in front of me. While the plane was bumping and careening toward the earth, I was gripping the armrests, bearing white knuckles and pleading with God for our safety. I happened to look at Caroline and noticed that she was leisurely glancing through the Sky Mall magazine in the seat next to me. No fear. Not even a flicker of worry.

When the plane finally touched down, Eden yelled, "WOO-HOO!!!" I, however, pondered kissing the ground as soon as we taxied to the gate. Thankfully, the flight home was much smoother. I don't think my heart could have handled much more.

Sometimes life can seem like that plane ride. You feel completely out of control (because you are) and the turbulence caused by trails and tests threatens to send you over the edge. However, in those moments (and sometimes hours and days and weeks) of life "turbulence," we are called to place greater trust in God instead of giving in to fear and worry. God was in control of my life thousands of miles in the air, just as He is in control while I live daily with my feet flat on the ground. And He is watching carefully over my life on the easy, peaceful days, just as He tenderly cares for me when everything is falling to pieces. He has proved Himself trustworthy time and time again. His Word reminds me that "the LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him." (Psalm 28:7, ESV) Lord, thank You for Your power, protection, and provision during the trials and turbulence of each day.