Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Fear of Flying

I'm not a great flyer.  I think I've admitted that once or twice here.  And today's flight reminded me of all the reasons I don't like it.  Before we even left the gate, the captain came over the intercom to tell us that there would be so much turbulence there would be no beverage service during the flight.

Great, I thought, paling under my Mexican tan.  I was in the middle of a conversation with a young man who'd just been medically discharged from the army.  He was marching around last summer, fully outfitted, in the 130 degree heat of Iraq, and oddly, got heat stroke.  When his temperature got up to 112, the army judiciously decided to pack him off to Germany.  He spent the winter there, was never so glad to see snow in his entire life.  Was pretty glad just to be alive, after all that, though he's just young enough that he can't quite imagine dying, even in a war zone.

I, on the other hand, could imagine dying this very day.  Imagined the ridiculous little prop plane that vibrates through the soles of shoes, being hit by a jolt of wind and flying straight into one of the snow capped mountains in our own state.  Shoot, I just about got out paper and pen to jot down my final thoughts.  Across the aisle, the men were jawing about Grangeville, Idaho, and life in the good old days.  Their only comment about the turbulence was, "Maybe we'll catch the wind and get ahead of schedule."  I wanted to say, "Who cares how long it takes--as long as we don't fall out of the sky!"  But mostly I just wished I wasn't such a scaredy cat.  The would-have-been soldier had his face pressed to the window, the woman ahead of me had her head bent toward a book.  It seemed like only I wore the tension of fear in my body, the tension that tomorrow will feel like I actually did fall out of a plane and hit the earth full-force.

I don't like that I have fears.  I don't like that I don't really trust the truth that "My times are in His hands," that there is no muscle on the skeleton of my faith when it comes to certain specific situations.  Buzzing bees around my food is one situation, and flying another.  I'm allergic to bees, so a good healthy fear is not irrational.  But as I sat in SeaTac airport today, and watched the many, many people boarding planes to places far flung around this globe, I was struck that obviously, planes actually seldom crash.  I lulled myself into thinking that that knowledge would keep me at calm on the flight.

But one short announcement before the engines even started, and I was right where I always start--full of fear, praying in panic.  Not exactly the kind of prayers that God says are effecacious.
But God answers such prayers as those prayed in fear.  And He's not surprised to hear them.  This mountain is one I never seem to climb over, but thankfully, He's faithful anyway.  I know--I know--He says that perfect love casts out fear, but it occured to me this afternoon, as I clenched my hands on the arm rests, and prayed my way across the state, that it's not my love that casts out fear, but HIS.  His perfect love slowly--repeatedly--casts out my fear (just as the wheels touch down)!

No comments: