Thursday, February 9, 2012
When I need it most
The captain had just announced that we were about 180 miles outside of Houston. The flight attendants were prepping the cabin for landing. We'd been instructed to turn off our portable electronic devices. The "lead flight attendant" reminded us to "be careful when opening the overhead compartments because the contents may have shifted during the flight". For some strange reason he ended that final instruction with this rather cryptic remark, "in the event of an emergency evacuation please leave your carry on behind". My first thought was to try and figure out why he would have said something like that. I mean, it's like the roller coaster operator saying, "if the lap bar doesn't hold for the duration of the ride don't forget to hold on to the sides as best you can" as you begin the ascent to the top of the first 300 ft. hill. Some things I can figure out for myself. If the plane goes into a free fall at 20,000 feet I can promise you that my leftover Wagyu Kobe Beef steak from the night before that I've kept iced down all day in my carry on will be the very last think that I'm thinking about. Anyhow, the remark wasn't so much cryptic as it was prophetic. Within 5 minutes of his announcement the Continental 777 began to shake like it was sitting on top of the dryer in my laundry room. I have experienced turbulence before but never like that. The plane shook and dropped and climbed and then it shook and dropped and climbed all over again. I kept my eye on the flight attendants for any sign of panic. They acted like "no big deal" while I sat in my seat begging God not to orphan my son. I prayed like a crazy man. I looked out of the window fully expecting to see a lightening strike on the wing or a little monster looking thing throwing objects into the engine like I'd seen years ago in the movie "Twilight Zone" (see picture above). I'm not sure what the problem was out there but it was pretty severe. I tried to mock the flight attendants by acting interested in the tennis match that was playing on the little TV in front of me rather than my life that was flashing before my eyes...but to no avail. I made mega deals with God for the next 10 minutes. Get us out of this and I SWEAR that I will_______. Since we survived the ordeal I am left with a lifetime of promises to keep, all made on the night I thought we were going to die on the plane. Interesting. As soon as the shakes began I was begging God for help. Call it prayer if you will. I call it groveling like a desperate soul on a plane.
My most passionate prayers come when I really need God for something. When I thought that the adoption of our son would fall through at the last minute I was praying out of desperation more than anything else. When I took my "General Ordination Exams" I was praying for help. When I recall any crisis in my life I remember that the prayers were never far behind. Of course, this is a good thing. What about when there is no crisis? How "fervent" are my prayers then? When life is good and all is calm...how desperately am I seeking God? Are my prayers for thanksgiving as passionate as the ones I prayed for a safe landing? I'd love to tell you that my prayers are the same no matter what. I'd be lying...and you'd probably know it.
Truth is, I need God right now just as much as I did on that plane. Sure, I'm just sitting here in my big, comfy chair with my Macbook Air in my lap and the sound of falling rain tapping on my windows and the fire crackling in the fireplace. But I need God. I can't type without God. I can't see without God. I can't do very much at all without God. The air that I am drawing in and out of my lungs comes from God. I couldn't look up right now and see Christian Aguilera acting like a lunatic on "The Voice" without God. I certainly couldn't pastor a church or preach a sermon in front of over 200 people on Sundays without...God. I couldn't be a dad or a husband. Everything comes from God. It's all created by God. It's all given to me by God. Any ability that I have to do anything is given by God. I don't expect that I will live every minute of every day in the realization that I am completely and totally dependent on God for every single thing in my life. But I am thinking it now. And I am just as passionate in my thanks for my life as I was the other night on that plane. My prayers in times of thanksgiving and joy must at times mirror the desperate prayers I lift up in times of need. Please God sustain me. I am desperately in need of you. Lift me up God. Keep me whole. Keep me safe. Thank you for the comfy chair and the cozy fire and the rain tapping on the windows. Thank you for my son tucked in right now quietly snoozing in his "Lightening McQueen" bed. I desperately need you God. We need you.
What a feeling to land that night. The next night we were home safe and sound and getting ready to warm up dinner. The Wagyu Beef? Left it on the plane. Hope the "lead flight attendant" enjoyed my leftovers.