Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Reflections from a Southwest Airlines Flight

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15.

On our return flight home from Mexico this past year, everything seemed normal on the flight. I have been on many flights both domestic and international. Our team was conversing with others throughout the cabin, we were eating Pizza that we just purchased, everything was "just normal." All of the sudden, the captain turned on that "fasten seat belt sign" and the flight attendant asked everyone to please return to their seats, fasten their seat belts, etc. This is pretty standard when you might have some turbulence...but then the captain came on the overhead speaker and told the flight attendants to return to their seats immediately and to fasten their seat belts. (This is...well...not so typical.) Okay...I was thinking, well...I've been through some significant turbulence before, this is going to be just fine. I actually had to use the restroom at the time and asked the flight attendant sitting in front of me if I could use the restroom if I was careful (again...standard practice). The flight attendant looked at me with a nervous look on her face and told me absolutely not, it is going to be really bad. (Hmmm...not so typical response.)

Sitting in the row behind me with members of our mission team, was an off-duty Southwest Airlines pilot talking. What happened next was a sudden drop about 500-1000 feet (estimate given by the guy sitting behind me.) The cabin shook, people went "whoooooooo." My heart started jumping. Yes, I'm okay with admitting that. I didn't really want to go down in a plane crash. I started thinking...why didn't I drive, why didn't we drive!!! I don't know why I think that somehow I have more control over my life when I am the one driving. I don't know why I am so arrogant to think that by worrying I can add an hour to my life. It certainly is illogical and unreasonable to think that you or I have any more control over our own life or death. (Don't read into this...just take it for what it is...I am not saying that you can cast off restraint, live like you want, because it doesn't would have to be a fool to believe that.) What I am saying is that it was silly of me to think for a second that God is not in control of absolutely everything that was going on around me and despite what comes, God will not be shaken, taken by surprise, and certainly will never be out of control. I can rest assured of this promise. I can also rest assured that life is precious, we are not guaranteed tomorrow, and that our lives are here today and they are gone tomorrow. Isn't that what the scripture says from the earlier quote in James? This kind lesson on the airplane brought me back to reality that I am not in control, and that at a split second, our life can be over, but God is Sovereign!

We are getting ready for another reality check just like this. No, I'm not getting on a plane this month, that's coming in November. However, this next event involves dad going in for cancer surgery. Tomorrow morning, in less than 24 hours from right now, he will be undergoing a 10-14 hour surgery to remove most of his tongue, replace it with tissue from somewhere else. He may have a bone replacement, he may die in the middle of surgery, he may have further complications, or they may find no cancer tomorrow. Nothing is certain other than God is on His throne. Though we may have the most skilled physicians and surgeons in the area, they can only do what is allowed and ordained by the Lord. Therefore, it would be foolish to place our faith and hope in anyone or anything else than the God who is there.

I know that no matter what the outcome of the surgery, the Lord's Name is worthy to be praised. Please to pray for my family tomorrow, please do pray that there will be no cancer, that would be incredible, but most importantly, pray that our faith may indeed be strengthened in Jesus Christ, our only hope both now and forever.

Thank you again to everyone who has sent cards, letters, and other correspondence. They have been greatly appreciated. Rachel and I will be posting updates on dad's condition throughout the surgery. Please understand that we will not be taking a lot of calls, and will be making even fewer during this time.

How deep the Father's love for us! How vast, beyond all measure!

In all things...Christ preeminent!


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