Have you ever noticed how everyday activities that you do without much thought seem rather odd when you step back and examine them? I have shared my love for carbonated beverages with you and while I am still very much attached (some might say addicted) to my Polar Pops, it is a bit absurd when you think that each day I drink a mixture of food coloring, bubbles and sugar and pay for the privilege. In my recent travels with our nine year old, I had one of those re-evaluation moments. Bailey and I were settling in for our long, overseas flight. The flight attendant was going over the emergency instructions, and I suddenly realized that I was getting ready to travel over a very large ocean for hours on end inside a flying metal box with my precious first born at my side. What was I thinking?!? You can quote all the safety statistics you want; they all seem a bit meaningless when a smiling, well-groomed young woman is explaining the procedure for hurling yourself into shark infested waters. (Okay, so I don’t know if they were actually shark infested, but at this point I don’t think I was at my most logical. Plus I watch a lot of Discovery Channel.)

While highlighting some of my submerged irrationality, this also provided a moment of clarity that was very encouraging. As I played through the scenarios of destruction, I tried to think of what I would say to Bailey if we did indeed face a life-threatening situation. Of course, in reality, I might have some difficulty being eloquent while plummeting from the sky. Still, something did strike me like a plastic bag on the head from the overhead compartment. If in fact the cabin did lose pressure—after first securing my own oxygen mask and then assisting my child—I could look him square in the eye and with all honesty say, as best one can while breathing oxygen through a plastic bag, “Buddy, we are going to see Jesus. We have absolutely nothing to fear.”

This statement may seem terribly Sunday School basic to you, but for me it marked a huge step in my faith. For though I have been affirming the happily-ever-after that awaits those who follow Him since I was knee high to a grasshopper and have seen more flannel-graph depictions of God’s plan for our salvation than you can shake a stick at, I am constantly plagued with the what-ifs that you face the other six days of the week. This especially pertains to my kids. Forget questioning whether or not I am instructing them correctly in the Gospel. Most days my prayer is that I am not convincing them of the opposite. The awesome responsibility of forming someone’s worldview from the ground up is too often a task I feel completely inadequate for. But as we placed our trays and seats in the upright position and perused the movie selection, the simplicity of it all settled over me. It reminds me of the story told of Karl Barth, the great Christian theologian who was asked by a student to sum up the most profound truth he had discovered in his life. Barth responded with the words “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” We may not know much more than that, but thankfully that’s more than we will ever need to know.  So just relax and enjoy the flight.


2 Responses to “Faith and the Friendly Skies”


  1. Jason Fortner

     

    Jim-

    I had a similar epiphany while flying to Mexico a few weeks ago. It was immensely comforting and probably really helped to set the stage for a very relaxing vacation. That moment of realization and grace allowed me to cope with Matthew’s occasional tantrums and poor restaurant manners (No, Matt. This is the restaurant where we have to wear long pants. It’s fancier than the outdoor one. You can’t really run around.) in a way that was clearly beyond the free margaritas.

    Reply
  2. Jim Spiegel

     

    Jason,

    Thanks for that comment. However, I should note that this post was actually authored by Amy, though I mistakenly posted it under my name. I have corrected the by-line, lest I receive any more credit for my wife’s excellent writing. My oversight probably reflects my subconscious desire to be as strong a stylist as she. Sigh.

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