I’m not sure how many cities I’ve been in over the last several months, but including all the layovers, I’m sure it was a bunch more than I wanted to be in.
It’s not that I don’t like the actual cities; it’s just that most of the time it is a plane that takes me to those cities. And I’m not a fan of the plane.
A few years ago I was on a flight and the plane was making a weird noise. I asked the flight attendant what it was and she had insufficient information for me. So I did what any rational person would do and asked the plane to turn around from the runway and take me back to the gate. Everyone pretty much loved me as I did the walk of shame, apologizing to anyone who dared to make eye contact with the freak of nature who had single-handedly ensured at least 15 missed connections at the next airport.
As most of you know, I tend to struggle with fear.
I’ve done a lot of soul searching over the past year, because when I get off the plane in a new city, it means I’m going to have to get on a big stage in that new city. I’m also not a fan of the big stage.
God certainly has a sense of humor, no?
Generally speaking, I do okay on planes as long as a) I can see the ground b)it’s a super smooth flight c) it’s daytime d) there are no storms anywhere remotely close, and e) I’m by a window.
I have learned that the checklist doesn’t do much good, because they shuffle you on too fast to have a sit-down with the pilots and look at maps and such. My friend (and equally phobic) Natalie Grant and I are fans of websites that document weather patterns and predict turbulence. It’s kind of pitiful, actually.
A few weeks ago I was on a flight that (barely) met 2 of my 5 requirements, and as we took off we hit a patch of less than desirable weather. I grabbed the sides of my seats and started praying.
“Get above it, get above it, get above it…” I whispered. I always do, but I hadn’t really realized it until this particular flight. Usually once you’re out of the clouds it settles down a little, and I was banking on that to survive the feeling of diving headfirst into a tornado. I’m pretty sure everyone else was as scared as I was, and they just talked and laughed and read their books to make it look like they were calm. Whatever.
I started practicing the verses I’m memorizing, and begged God for mercy. I was keenly aware of the fact that my breathing was more gasping, and I asked the Lord to help me breathe, help me remember who He is, and to know His power in the moment where I had nothing of my own to offer.
After about 3 hours (or 10 minutes. The details are fuzzy), we got above the clouds. The ding announced we were able to move about the cabin and I wiped my sweaty hands on my jeans. I grabbed a magazine and asked for a diet coke.
It was pretty good until the way down. I tend to do better descending because it isn’t, you know, defying gravity. So I kind of feel like I’m cooperating with nature instead of trying to rage against it. It’s logical to me.
The pilot announced that it was going to be a little bumpy on the way down (cue hysteria). He asked the flight attendants to take their seats early because of the concern for injury. I don’t remember exactly what he said but what I heard was, “Sayonara suckers. Your feet won’t touch ground again.”
With my forehead stuck to the window, I stared at the light on the end of the wing and prayed. It was really cloudy, and every few seconds we would hit an air pocket and feel like we were dropping fast.
“Get below it, get below it, get below it…” Again I mouthed the words, hardly looking up when the flight attendant motioned for my nearly full drink. I looked at her for a split second and then went back to my post. I compare this feeling to what Todd must feel when he’s yelling full throttle at a Michigan football game. His voice doesn’t change the outcome, but it sure feels like it might in the moment.
We did land without any major incident, and as I rode over to the hotel I could feel my body start to calm down. I thought about how hard this season in my life is because I’m smack dab against the window of my fears and it does take a toll on me. While I don’t feel like I have ever heard the Lord audibly, I certainly feel when He has spoken. While I was lamenting my struggle, I realized something He had planted in me, and I’ve been processing it ever since.
“When do you pray, Angie?”
I thought back to the flight. I prayed when I was in the clouds, when the plane was bumping around and unpredictable.
I pray in the clouds.
When my own little list of requirements is met, I don’t cry out to Him the same way. Yes, I pray…but not like I do in the clouds.
And whether or not we are in planes, we are all most certainly in clouds.
There are those rough pockets of life where it feels like our thoughts are only to get out of the rough pockets. And we might miss the communion that happens at 30,000 feet if we allow ourselves to.
And all the while, our human nature shouts, “Get above it! get below it! get me out of here!” There’s nothing wrong with feeling like you wish a hard season would pass, but I do believe there are treasures we might otherwise miss if we don’t know Him there, in the bumps and the chaos.
Let Him reveal His power when you have none. For control freaks like myself, it’s an exercise in humility. Where is an area of your life where you could shift your focus a little and instead of shouting about where you wish you were, you could surrender and see Him exactly where you are? I’m praying His peace washes over you in the coming days, and that you see His face anew as you trust Him to get you through the storm as only He can.
By: Angie Smith, Bring the RainLeave a Comment
Maria @ A Blooming Spirit says
Angie this post have me chills because I actually wrote a post about this yesterday. I wrote about “paying forward” the Gift of Jesus by sharing the great news with others, and while I want to talk to others about it, I always have this fear that I dont know enough about Jesus and that if I try to preach the Gospel, I will make Him look like a fool with my ignorance. Also, I am very shy when approachin people for the first time, which is ironic considering I am an Army officer who leads Soldiers 🙂 But your post was so encouraging about letting Him reveal His power when I have none. Be blessed!
Charina @ Pondered Thoughts says
Maria, this is just what I want to do. As much as I want to pay forward the gift of Jesus in tangible ways, we are in a very bad situation financially that I am doing it by sharing the good news. No, I don’t know much about Jesus but I know He is good, loving, great and that He loves us and this is what I share.
I let Him reveal His power through the bumps in my life and share to others that we can still see and feel His love and greatness through all these bumps.
He is great!
All good things,
Angie, You are such a great writer! Thanks for being so open about situations.
You write: “There’s nothing wrong with feeling like you wish a hard season would pass, but I do believe there are treasures we might otherwise miss if we don’t know Him there, in the bumps and the chaos.”
I have found this to be so true in my life. Thank you for sharing!
I am having a hard time embracing the chance to know him in the bumps and the chaos right now. IT’s one of those situations where there is no way but through it, but I don’t WANT to go through it. I want to be done with it. But I will pray in the clouds. And maybe I will ask Him to make me want to open to what He wants to show me.
Charina @ Pondered Thoughts says
Angie, thanks for this post. Been to a lot of bumps, and if this was years ago, I will be horrible to be around with, not now…..
These bumps have always brought the best in me and bring me closer to Him all the more. Not that I am wishing the bumps would stay, I am just saying that sometimes the bumps is what we need to realize and accept that He is what we need.
All good things,
Angie – this is a beautiful post, with lots to think about; thank you for sharing it.
Incidentally, if it makes you feel any better, you are drastically safer on a commercial airliner than you are in any car. Airline safety is heavily regulated, most pilots have extensive experience and the technical systems are advanced enough to literally fly and land the plane themselves. :0)
Kim ~ Recipes To Run On says
I love this post…. After a recent mammogram, I received a call back. The 2nd test resulted in a biopsy. Through the process and as I waited on the results of the biopsy, I felt raw in a way I hadn’t felt before. I was so dependent on the Lord and so connected with Him… seeking Him constantly. The results were benign… and the raw went away. I wonder how in the busyness of life ~ the bumps or the calm ~ I can get to that connectedness again. I think it’s going to involve driving out the extra white noise in the coming year. Great post! Thanks for the reminder.
Jan Udlock says
I, too, hate to fly but I do once a year to visit my folks. When the plane hits turbulence, I casually look around and study other passengers’ faces. So far, no one has even looked up. I take a deep breath and sit back in my chair and exhale.
I tell myself the best part of a really bad day with my kids (5 of them) or everything breaking around the house, is that on good days I can truly enjoy His goodness. The Lord has taught me to appreciate all of His gifts that I would normally overlook because I feel entitled to them. Angie, great post.
Thank you for this post today! I am getting ready to leave on a missions trip to India tomorrow. I am doing this out of obedience to the Lord but, I’ll admit I’m scared! I am reminded to stop and seek the Lord where I am right now instead of where I want to be-on the other side of this trip, back at home with my family. He has called me to this trip for a reason and I don’t want to miss out on what that is!
Laureen Brackin says
I’ve never flown in a plane before (and don’t intend to), but I can totally relate to your point. I went through what I call my “valley” year. I’m only 46 (my 20 year old says that’s old), but I grew up always around music, and my mom happened to sing in a gospel group. (I love it all!) But from those roots, I remembered in my “valley” year the song, “In The Valley He Restoreth My Soul”. It is so true. How wonderful those mountaintop experiences are, but if you stay there too long, you just might forget WHO got you there. In the valley (or in your, the clouds), is where you learn to depend on God, trust in Him, and grow close to Him, sometimes in those oh so desperate hours. Clouds or valleys – the message is the same. Draw near to Me and I will draw near to you.
I so needed this today. My husband is an educator and I am a stay at home mom. It’s a rough time to be in education right now and we are taking hits left and right with our finances. Some of it out of our control and some we have done to ourselves. But, I know that God has something to teach us in all of this. And rather than getting through this tough season, I want to sit in it and learn and grow and depend on Jesus. Thanks for this. I want to be in prayer in the clouds and in the when all seems sunny and just so! God Bless!
Beautiful post! Thank you for the reminder that through all we endure on this Earth, HE is in control and is preparing us to meet him face to face. We only have to trust!
Diane Bailey says
No matter how difficult life can be, there is always blue sky above the clouds. Thank you for this beautiful reminder.
Thanks for this Angie! Our Father is so good in taking us through those times when we have to rely on Him to remind us to depend on Him always. Thanks for being submissive to His will- had the opportunity to be at WOF for the first time in Rochester and soooo appreciated your words!
As a white-knuckle flyer, I totally identified with your post. I haven’t been on an airplane in a very long time but reading what you went through brought it all back. Often, in the midst of whatever I am going through, I, too, wish it was over, wish I was someplace else, want to run away, fly away. I even have Psalm 55:6 framed on my bedroom wall. But you know…oftentimes when I rant and cry…those are the times when I feel the most authentic in my relationship with God and sometimes the closest. I think He orchestrates those times just so I would get close even to be daring to rant at Him. He doesn’t get ruffled by my own lunacy but patiently waits and never leaves.
“Let Him reveal His power when you have none. For control freaks like myself, it’s an exercise in humility.” Amen to that! I can totally relate.
Charise Christianson says
I am a white knuckle flyer myself and I often get worked up days or even weeks before I actually get on the plane. I loved your example of praying through it, depending on Jesus verses white knuckling it or pretending it’s not there. How many times do we do that with things in our everyday life! Great reminder our dependency should be on Him and even through the bumpy and uncertain parts of life, He is there and we can learn so much and gain so much of Him.
Thanks for your transparency. What a beautiful reminder. I might eventually surrender to Him in some area, but I usually grumble… I needed this.
marina Bromley says
I’m not a fan of rough flights, but AM a fan of prayer!! Praise God that He has thought of things to give us practice in those desperate prayers…otherwise we’d never know how to do it! LOL
Kidding aside, trust Him sister. He knows the number of hairs on your head, He knows your fears, He has each day of your life appointed. If for some reason “something bad” happened, take rest in knowing that He knows what’s going on. He has a plan.
Trust Him, in confidence, not in fear. I know it’s hard, but it’s where we need to walk. To quote that saying…”We don’t know what the future holds…but we know who holds the future…”
Praying for your New Year, that you’ll grow in this new place of confidence…
Grace and Peace,
Beth Williams says
My hubby absolutely hates flights, and for the same reason as you–Control!
An area of life I can surrender–work! My job has completely changed since I started 4 years ago. I no longer use any skills I trained for. I’m doing something that takes no traininga at all–at least not 2 years college.
Keep praying in, above, and around the clouds. God won’t take you out of the situation, but He’ll see you through it!
Chat G., says
Thank you for sharing, Angie…may you be blessed always ( whether you are in,under, over and out of the clouds) !
This is it. We need to be prepared to die at any moment.
This is so relevant for me right now. For so many reasons, on so many different levels. There aren’t words enough to explain how this post hits me. If you have a moment, please wander over to my blog to read my account of my terrifying trip to Colorado just before Christmas. I am sure you will be able to relate. (sigh).
Great post Angie! I was really challenged by your thoughts, as I seem to pray so much more when I’m “in the clouds” Thanks for being so transparent and for flying to speak to us even when you are afraid.
LOVE the last paragraph. I am a shouter….I shout about where I am and where I want to be…and He graciously listens, but has been redirecting my focus. This morning Zephaniah 3:17 spoke to me in a new way…He will quiet me with His love…when I shift my focus to His love, I have nothing to shout but His praises! Thank you for writing
Betty Draper says
I loved your post for it brought memories of the many years I spent dreading every flight and being an over seas missionaries for many years more times then I can count had to get where we were going by flying. From the biggest jets to the single engine plane that land on tiny air strips in the jungle to the even more remote locations that require a helicopter. Up till about 6 years ago I dreaded every one of them….but I still got on what ever plane it was because I knew it was God’s will for us. Fear is an over powering emotions but one God will use in the most profound ways as long as we face that fear head on. I am sure that fear aged me prematurely, I am really only about 50 instead of 65 in a few days, ha.
Clouds alway make me think of an old southern gospel song, , This Could Be The Cloud He’s Coming Back On…but somehow that song never came to me the many times the plane shook like little toy in a big dogs mouth. I have died a few hundred deaths and even planned how my funeral would play out during those fearful times. And yes, yes, yes did my best praying in the grip of that fear.
Something super natural happened to me though and I cannot even give an exact date to it. But about six years ago we were flying into Madang, Papua New Guinea on one of those single engine plane and I realized I was actually enjoying the beauty that was laid out before me. Then it hit me…goodness I have missed the enjoyment of God’s creations so many times due to my fear from my lack of control over my situation. I think maybe that was when fear left me….I finally gave up the control stick. Now I still don’t live being in a plane when it’s storming and I sometimes I get nerveous but not fearful.
Your post made me feel like I was sititng in one of those many planes we rode in as we served overseas…how very thankful I am that I did not say… no way God…you expect too much of me. Very thankful you have not let it stop you either from giving out words of wisdom to others.
My dear father in law used to work for Lockheed Aircraft, and I talked to him about my terror of flying, especially when there’s even a speck of turbulence.
He helped me immensely when he told me that flying in a plane when there’s turbulence is nothing more than being in a car going over a rough road. He explained that the plane is flying on its own “road”, and that I’m just as safe on that as I would be in a car going over a bumpy road. “Visualize it as a highway in the air”, he told me. Well, of course, there is that “air” part, but doing that visualization really did help me the next time I had to fly somewhere.
“It’s a highway in the sky”, I kept telling myself. “It’s just a bumpy road”.
And it worked!
Oh, I love this! How applicable for all of us who deal with fear, anxiety, lack of control. I haven’t been on a plane in some time, but what a great picture — those clouds, that ground, that fear. Thank you, Angie, for this. So appropriate for me heading into this new year.