I hate flying. I don’t know many people who enjoy it. Let’s face it…at 30,000 ft. death seems way more likely. As soon as the plane gets onto the runway my anxiety level skyrockets and my prayer life (I shamefully admit) suddenly becomes intense. The only person I know who gets excited to fly is my two year old son and it’s only because he’s completely clueless about all the things that could go wrong in the air. Unlike mine, his imagination doesn’t have the capacity to create thousands of plane crash scenarios and fear is not alive and well in his little soul just yet.
When Makaio sees an airplane at the airport he jumps up and down and screams “Look Dada it’s an airplane! Do you see that? I wanna get on it Dada!!” Everyone always stares at him wishing they could share his enthusiasm.
Back in March, we boarded a plane at Midway airport in Chicago and headed for Long Island to visit family. It was a windy, windy day; certainly not ideal flying weather. When the pilots disembarked from the previous incoming flight, I heard them commenting on how difficult it was to land the plane in the gusting wind. My stomach dropped.
When we got onboard, I situated myself near a window and settled Mikayla on my lap. Wouter had Makaio strapped into the seat in between us. I was already sweating. I know how pathetic this must sound. I should just relax, right? Well, I would relax but my experience tells me that bad things can happen in the air and I easily recall many news reports on “flights gone wrong.”
We approached the runway and gathered enough speed to begin our ascent. The take-off was bumpy. Climbing to our cruising altitude was like driving on a Chicago Street full of potholes. I always wait for the pilot to turn off the seatbelt sign as an indication of safety but during this flight the light remained illuminated. Instead of reassuring us of our safety, he got on the loudspeaker and told us that the duration of the flight would be turbulent and that we should only get out of our seats if necessary. Great! At least the flight to NY would be short.
After an hour or so, I felt the plane begin to descend and I was relieved. As soon as I exhaled and began to relax, the flight attendant came on the intercom and warned us that the winds in Islip were strong and that our landing was going to be very bumpy. This was followed by an announcement from the captain telling all flight attendants to sit down and buckle up.
It felt like the plane was being blown back and forth as we were approaching the runway.The pilot struggled to steady the wings. My muscles were tense. I had one hand around Mikayla holding her to my chest and the other hand gripping the armrest. A gust of wind would come every few seconds causing the plane to sway and the passengers to gasp.
All the while my little boy was bouncing in his seat trying to get a look out the window and saying, “Whooo dada, dada look, dada this is fun.” When He fell silent for a minute or so, I began wondering why. I managed to peel my eyes away from the window and look at him. He had fallen asleep!!! What? How can he sleep at a time like this? If any of you know my son, this is extremely out of character. He is not a fan of sleep and it certainly doesn’t come easy to him. But there he was, sitting right beside me sleeping like a baby as the aircraft blew back and forth and his mommy was having a nervous breakdown. Somehow my son was relaxed enough to fall into a deep sleep and he was resting.
As I looked at him in wonder, I felt God whisper to my heart “that is exactly how I want you to be.” I instantly understood the Lord’s message to me. During life’s most turbulent times I want you to be at rest because you trust in me. At that moment I knew that my anxiety was an indication of my lack of trust in the Lord.
Makaio doesn’t understand the dangers of flying in an airplane. He just simply trusts his mommy and daddy. That’s it. His trust in Wouter and I guards his heart against fear. Jesus calls us all to have this “child-like” faith and tells us that it’s a necessity for entering His kingdom. We must simply trust Him the same way Makaio trusts Wouter and I… enough to follow us anywhere.
Now, a few months later, I am still trying to allow this beautiful truth to permeate me and take root in how I live my life. I haven’t gotten very far yet and I know it may take a lifetime. But the image of a simple faith untainted by the disappointments of this life drives me forward toward trusting Him with reckless abandon.
And Jesus said: “I tell you the truth, unless you become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3