The Perspective of Thin Air

From the archives – Summer 2007

Every time I get on a plane, I am faced with my own mortality. It may seem a little morbid, but as soon as the plane begins to back out of its gate, my mind starts to prattle on in a somber direction. I offer a silent prayer for the safety of my flight and the other passengers. I remind myself that God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear as a brief wave of anxiousness washes over me and my stomach tightens.

Looking out the window – for I pick a window seat when I can – I see we are slowly rolling down the tarmac, making the final turn as we wait in line to be cleared for take off. I think of those I love. . . I think of my family and friends. . . and I wonder about my life and whether or not I’ve done all that God has meant for me to do. . . Finally, it is our turn to fly. The noise of the engines whir louder as the plane begins to move forward. The plane hurtles toward the end of the runway, gaining speed until the landscape blurs the clearly defined horizon of houses, warehouses, mountains, and trees into a steady stream of color rushing past the window.

My thoughts take a quicker pace to match the beating of my heart and questions fill my mind: What if this is the last flight I take? I suppose if God wants me home now, He knows best. How will my family and friends react if something happens? I hope the Lord gives them comfort. Our acceleration continues, and the momentum of the plane begins to press us further back into our seats. Wait! What am I thinking? I don’t think I’m done with life on earth yet. No, I don’t feel like I’ve done all that God wants me to do – Why haven’t I done all that God wants me to do? What makes me feel like I’m missing something? Like I’m not living life to the full? What should I be doing differently?

Finally, as these thoughts seem ready to crush me with the weight of their questioning, the plane begins to lift as if it’s light as a feather instead of a 300+ ton piece of skillfully-engineered metal. At this moment, something breaks through all my fears, all my doubts, all my concerns. A feeling of weightlessness begins to lift me from my seat, while I sense a calm and peace flood over me, causing my spirit to soar. I realize that my God has hold of me.

The plane turns to head southeast, and I see the buildings below shrink smaller and smaller into squares and rectangles while cars dot the freeways that snake through the morning sunlit suburbs and cities like the twists and turns of a river. I marvel at how much life is taking place below with little consideration for me and my flight. Climbing thousands of feet in mid-air affords me a perspective that is difficult to maintain at ground level. Thousands of people going about their morning in different ways: Watering their lawns, sleeping in late, driving to work, sipping their morning coffee. I wonder, What does life have in store for them today? What dreams will they pursue? What pain do they suffer? What loneliness do they feel? What kind of situations at home or work or school will they encounter? How does God plan to meet them at their point of need today?

As I continue my journey into the blue, the rising sun shines brightly in the east, and the mountains stand strong below, buckled like a quickly-laid dropcloth on the ground. A patchwork of neighborhoods, urban developments, and farming communities comes into view, revealing a carefully-planned landscape reminiscent of a miniature, while white cumulus clouds spread as far as the eye can see, like a grand carpet welcoming me into the sky. More and more miles separate me from my every day routine, the status quo, and the expected. And I feel peace and wonderful joy as I realize that anything is possible.

When viewed at 30,000 ft., God’s creation declares His grandeur and beauty and reminds me that He has me in the palm of His hand. His vision is limitless; His ways, unfathomable; His efforts, boundless; His thoughts, so far above my own. He lifts me high so I can see reality from His vantage point, and in the process He shows me how small my view can be.

There are moments when I lack confidence in God’s faithfulness, as if He wants me to learn a lesson by dangling the proveribial carrot in front of me. Other times, I feel overlooked as if I have nothing of beauty to offer. And sometimes I wonder if I have what it takes to fulfill His call. But these false ideas are simply lies from the evil one who seeks to paralyze me and make me doubt the Father’s goodness. By the light of His grace, God helps me reject the lies and stand firm in the truth.

God, who is greater than anyone can imagine, cares for me and knows me intimately. He has my hopes, my dreams, and my best in mind. He loves me, and through Christ, He has offered me a place by His side where I can work in His kingdom for His vision. I am part of His story, laying down my own will, desires, and fallen reasonings and emotions at His feet to wholly embrace everything that He is. His path requires courage, humility, and endurance, but the joy, contentment, and life He gives is well worth the cost.

I love flying. It reminds me of who I am.

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