I confess—I’m afraid to fly. Yes, I am. Maybe it’s because of my first-ever flight, a business trip on a small, ancient propjet with the wings set across its top and its tail shaped like a box kite. Before boarding, I watched from the terminal as similar planes arrived at the gate. As soon as their passenger doors opened someone always tossed a bulky, black trash bag onto the tarmac. Later, I discovered that the bags held remnants of the cold lunch served onboard, and the aisle was so narrow that the bag needed to be thrown out before passengers could get off. On my first-ever flight, the crew wore blue jeans and red-and- white checked shirts with paisley bandanas, and a nervous passenger prayed the Twenty-Third Psalm aloud as the plane ascended grumbling and roaring from the runway. We fought turbulence, up and down, up and down, all the way from Chicago to the Quad Cities. Oh, and did I mention that I was the only woman on board? I wore a bright-red dress, and I stood out like a sore thumb in a sea of black suits.
On another business trip, a short flight on a small commuter jet, I was even more terrified. On that flight, a drawn curtain separated the 22 passengers from the pilot and co-pilot, and from my seat just behind the curtain, at 20,000 feet, I heard the cockpit alarm go off.
“Do you see it?” said the pilot.
“No,” the co-pilot said. “Do you see it?”
From my window seat, I saw it. A small private plane passed below us, and, thank God, at a comfortable distance. A parrot added to the excitement—that’s right, a parrot—in the luggage compartment at the back of the plane. With every turbulent dip, it let out a blood-curdling scream. Through it all, I sat praying silently while pretending to read. I’m proud of myself. I was braver than my traveling companion. I was willing to get back on that plane for the flight home, but he opted to rent a car.
Yes, I am afraid to fly. But still, I am certain that whenever I feel afraid, God is with me. The bible says in Psalm 91:4 that He will cover us with His feathers. He will shelter us with His wings. His faithful promises are our armor and protection. Wherever we are, God’s powerful and gracious presence calms our fears and brings us peace, even when we soar helplessly in airplanes thousands of feet above Earth.
[Photo from Airlines.net, by Michael Vaeremans]
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