On a recent flight to Chicago, I grew alarmed when the fasten seatbelt sign came on, and the pilot announced, "Well folks, we've hit a little bit of unexpected turbulence. I've turned on the fasten seatbelt sign. Please stay seated with your seat-belts securely fastened until we pass through this rough patch." Rough patch, I thought, even the flight attendants had to take their seats. I squeezed the armrests, closed my eyes, and begged God to keep us safe. "Lord," I pleaded, as I did each time I flew, "Please make the shaking stop. Give us smooth air currents to fly through and get us there safely."
Fear has always been my worst enemy, and I could sense it's icey talons gripping my heart while our plane tossed about like a tiny paper airplane up in the vast blue sky. My litany of prayers for a smooth flight and calm air streams seemed to bounce off the ceiling. So, I decided to meditate on Bible verses I had stored up in my heart. I clung to God's promise that my life and my times were in His hands. I just didn't want "my times" to run out in a airplane high up in the sky.
Trying to calm my fears, I watched the other passengers sleeping soundly, reading their e-books, or visiting with their neighbor. I thanked God for the many times I had flown safely. And, I imagined the trips I longed to take in the future. Yet, I knew those trips would be few and far between if I couldn't get a handle on my fear. So, I turned my heart back to prayer. But this time, I prayed for something new. "Lord," I said, "I want to travel wherever you send me. I want to share the messages you've put on my heart. But I don't think I can do it if you don't take away my fear. Father, please take away the fear, give me Your peace, and Jesus, help me not to be afraid to fly anymore."
The plane continued to toss about, but in that moment, the turmoil in my heart disappeared. God heard my prayer. His peace spread through me like a cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter day. And as God's peace warmed my heart, the fear melted away. I relaxed into my seat. "Thank you, Father," I whispered. The plane soon quit shaking, the fasten seatbelt sign was turned off and the flight attendants resumed their job of serving us beverages and snacks.
Later, while I explored the streets of Chicago, I reflected upon why I hadn't ever asked God to remove the fear before? I realized, while I had prayed about the disturbance on the outside, I had never prayed about the turmoil within. Turmoil which God had been waiting to replace with His peace. And, I also wondered, will it last? Would God's peace still be there on my next flight or the next and all the others after that?
On the plane ride home, plus seven flights later, I'm thrilled to report that God's peace has continued to guard my heart and mind on every trip. I admit, out of habit, I still grab the armrests at the first sign of turbulence. I continue to pray for safety as well as a smooth flight, because I definitely prefer it over a turbulent one. Nonetheless, I have learned a valuable lesson. While I was busy begging for the Lord to calm things down on the outside, He desired to give me something much greater on the inside, His peace. A peace that keeps my heart still and mind calm when the world around me is rocking and rolling. All I had to do was ask.
Dear reader, as I conclude my post, I wonder, what are you asking God for? I'd like to invite you, even if just for today, to stop asking God to change a turbulent situation in your life. Instead, ask Him to take away the worry, the fear or the pain that's weighing heavy on your heart. Ask Him to replace your burden with His peace. A peace only He can give. A peace which far exceeds our understanding. Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT) says, Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.