On Window Seats, Turbulence and Faith…

I had a so-called “window seat” on my flight last week.
Except I had no window.
Because the airlines have squished more and more seats onto the plane, I had a nice piece of plastic to look at for the flight.
And for the most part, I did not care.
I dozed off and on, earphones in, music soothing my soul.

It was a bumpy flight – but those don’t bother me much.
I have logged thousands upon thousands of miles on planes.
So all was well – with or without “my” window.

Until we started out initial descent.
And then I suddenly “needed” to see.

The captain warned us that it was going to be a bumpier than normal descent.
Winds gusting – and I mean, really gusting – from the north.

And out of the blue, I had this overwhelming need to check things out.
How high are we?
How much time before wheels down?
When will he signal for the flight attendants to strap in for the landing?

By the way, it didn’t help that I have landed at this airport, in this flight pattern, many times before. You would think that would be beneficial. But sometimes knowledge – or memory – work against us.
You see, I know these things about landing at Reagan National when flying in from Alabama:
1. You come in from the south, flying straight up the Potomac. Great views – and the feeling that the wheels are going to touch the river before they touch the runway.
2. The descent has to be steep, simply because we are landing in the middle of a city, complete with tall buildings and lots and lots of traffic.
3. I have a vivid memory of the news reports and stories of Air Florida Flight 90 going down in the Potomac when I was a child. On a cold, windy, icy day long, long ago. Something that crosses my mind every time I have to fly into or out of Reagan in cold weather.

So suddenly, all these things made it imperative for me to SEE where we were.
And I couldn’t.
Because, not only did I not have a window, but the ones in front of me and behind me were closed.

I thought I was going to lose my mind.
And it made me laugh at myself.
Because I had no idea that this was something I do.
I avidly watch our landing, mentally checking off that things are going well.

So foolish to think I have so much control over the aircraft!
Or the weather conditions
The pilot’s skill
Or the mechanics of the plane.

Yet I apparently believed that I could make a difference in how this landing went down. Which is laughable because my brain knows these Truths:
1. God is in control of all things.
2. My days were numbered before one of them came to be – and if that number was fulfilled last Friday, so be it. Heaven is my destination and it is going to be glorious!
3. Seeing does not change what I can or cannot do about anything. I can pray either way – and that is the only thing I can do. Period.

But in that moment, Truth was not in control.
Instead, I was desperately trying to be.
And my rational mind was laughing at me.
While the Holy Spirit was trying to remind me of what I know to be True.
Even as my emotions were ramping up.

It. Was. Ridiculous.

As I battled the irrational, foolish part of me, the Holy Spirit said, “This is a metaphor for life. You have to “walk by faith, not by sight”. (2 Corinthians 5:7)
Or, rather, fly by faith, not by sight.

Sometimes in this life, I have a window seat with an open window.
I can clearly see where I am and what is coming – or at least, what I think is coming.
I have great views.
The flight is smooth.
And I am relaxed.

But more often than not, I do not have a window seat on my life.
Or, if I do, there is fog.
Or darkness.
Or cloud cover obscuring my view.

Sometimes, the weather is clear.
Smooth sailing.
No turbulence.
And a gentle landing at my next stop.

Other times, the flight and the landing are both bumpy.
Buffeted by the winds of trials.
Temptations. Tests.

But regardless of my circumstances – and what I can or cannot see – the Truth remains the same.
1. I am not The Pilot of my life. I am not even the Co-Pilot. I am not God enough to be either.
2. I am not in control of the plane. Or the weather. The landings. Or the take-offs.
3. The only thing I can do from my seat is trust the Pilot. Constantly talking to Him in prayer. Whether I like my current conditions or not. Whether I can see or not. Doing anything else is wasted energy and wasted emotion.
4. I do not have to see for us to have a safe landing. I do not have to understand in order to trust Him. I have logged thousands upon thousands of hours of “flight time” with Him. And as the Psalmist wrote, I have “seen in (my) history the faithful love of the Lord”. (Psalm 107:43, NLT)
5. My memory of past pain – like remembering Air Florida Flight 90 – does not determine my future with a good, good Father. He may allow troubling circumstances to come – but I have His promise that He is working those things – “ALL things” – together for my best interest and His glory. (Romans 8:28)

So after the longest 30 minutes in my recent history, the wheels bumped down and we rocketed to a stop, safe and sound.
Even without my help.
And without my sight.
Imagine that!

Will I still ask for a window seat? Of course.
Will I open the shade as we land? I am sure I will.
But I hope that the next time I have to land without seeing, I can do a better job simply trusting.

That’s always the goal – to do it better the next time that test comes around.
Not to earn His love.
But because He has lavished His love on me already.
And I know I can trust the Pilot. He’s proven that time and time again.

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