On the way home a couple of weeks ago from a very quick trip to Vegas to celebrate my birthday with a dear friend, my plane was delayed. When I finally boarded 2 hours after the scheduled time, I made my way through the tight aisle amongst disgruntled passengers to my seat and sat down next to a 5 year old girl and her mom. Instead of taking off and heading home, we ended up stuck in the plane for another hour. Then much to my relief the stewardess announced that were were going to be unloading and getting on another plane. Seriously, if the plane wasn’t safe after an hour, do I really want to use it to fly home? No. I’m good, I was more than happy to get off that plane. The little girl beside me had actually slept through most of it , thank goodness. We got off that plane, waited another hour in the terminal and then finally boarded a new plane that would carry us home. For the second time that day I sat down next to the 5 year old girl and her mom. After about five minutes of waiting on the new plane, the little girl turned to her mom and asked,
“When are we going to fly?”
“Soon” her mother replied, “Soon”.
After another long ten minutes, the stewardess began her pre- flight prep talk. We looked at each other and smiled. Some people even clapped.
As the plane backed up and slowly turned around, the little asked her mom, “Are we flying yet?”
“Not yet, but soon” her mom said.
Then we had stopped to wait our turn in the runway . By this time, every stop and turn felt like an eternity, and the irrational fear that we were actually going nowhere teased at the very edges of our emotions.
Finally, the plane turned onto “our” runway and began to pick up speed as it prepared to lift off. The little girl looked out the window as the world blurring by and asked again, “Are we flying yet?”
This time, I chimed in, “Not yet, but you will know it when it happens, you won’t miss it”.
Just then, with the plane speeding down runway, that tell tale moment of take off happened: you are pushed into your seat and the plane feels heavy as it leaves the ground, tucks up its wheels and takes off. Then for just a moment you feel lighter than air then heavy again as the nose of the plane points to sky. Now…you are flying.
I turned to the little girl next to me and asked her ” Are we flying yet?”
“Yes!” She said with a big smile on her face, “We are definitely flying!”
As the plane leveled off and I settled down for the ride, I thought about how often I ask God the same kind of question in my life, “Is this it? Am I flying? Am I living in the fullness of Your purpose?”
I looked down at the precious blond headed little girl sitting next to me (who is already over the novelty of flying and now coloring in her book) I was reminded that “flying”is a part of the journey but not the apex of it. I am flying -living passionately and pursuing God daily. It though it looks different than I thought it would and sometimes it feels frightfully “normal” after things have leveled off. I have faced fears and taken risks. I have failed and succeeded. I have been hurt and been healed. I have seen miracles and cleaned toilets. I am living and indeed “flying”. So why am I asking the question, “Am I flying yet?”
I wonder how often am I searching for the “feeling” of lift off and misinterpret that as flying? The take off is just the beginning. Not only is it just the beginning but flying is transportation. It is meant to get you somewhere. You go farther faster and it is terribly exciting, but still it is just a part of the journey. There are times in your life you have been launched into a new arena or when the speed of life has reached a breaking point where you either take off or turn around. Though they are defining moments to be sure, they are not permanent. The point is not to spend your life looking for the next take off. By all means- fly! But remember that what matters in the long run is what you do when you land. How you live. Who you love. What you do with what God has given you.
When you are pursuing God’s purpose for your life, it can feel like that departing day in Las Vegas. You are packed and ready to go, checked into the right place and feel more than ready to fly. You know you are where you are supposed to be and doing what you are supposed to be doing . You are headed in the right direction but instead of going anywhere, you end up feeling like all you are doing is waiting. Starts and stops. Boarding and un- boarding. Waiting for your “turn” to take off.
Frustration and discouragement sets in and you begin to wonder, “When will it be my turn to fly?”
Just like that gentle mother who answered her little girls questions, so your Heavenly Father answers yours (and mine):
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “(Isaiah 55:8 NIV)
Instead of looking for the next take off, enjoy the wait, the ride and indeed the journey of life. Trust God. He knows where you are and where you are destined to be.
Remember that life is a journey that has more to do with who you are with than where you go.
“Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life.” (Colossians 3:3, 4 MSG)
Walk with God everyday and enjoy the journey with Him. He will take care of when and where and how of it all.
After about an hour in the air, my plane finally touched down at the Stockton Airport. As the wheels touched the Tarmac, the passengers broke out in applause, myself included. We were so glad to be done with the flying and to get on with the business of living.
May your journey be filled with moments of take off, flying high and landing right where you are supposed to be. But most of all, may it be filled with His presence as you get down to business of living fully and passionately within the freedom of God’s great grace.