About a month ago I was flying from Minneapolis to Phoenix when the plane started to have some issues. Smoke started coming into the cabin (which is always a bad sign), the plane started to shake, and people began to panic. The captain got on the intercom and calmly said, “Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please, the fan in our left engine has just quit working and we are going to have to make an emergency landing in Denver, please remain calm. Flight attendants please prepare for an emergency landing.” Needless to say that confirmed everyones fears. I zeroed in on his words “please remain calm.” Remain calm I thought, hmm, that’s some great advice, why isn’t anyone taking it! I always wondered how I would react in a time like that. Would I begin flailing violently, screaming at the top of my lungs, “we’re gonna burn! oh my God we’re gonna burn!!” Or would I remain calm and be a help to those around me? I’m happy to say although I was afraid on the inside, I remained calm and focused on keeping those around me calm. There was a the lady sitting in my row along with her seven year old daughter. The daughter sat next to the window and when our plane tilted up on its side she said with excitement, “look mommy you can see the ground!” I almost laughed out loud! All her mom could say was, “yeah honey, isn’t that something.” Seeing she was afraid I began to ask her questions, doing my best to calm her. As she and many others gripped the armrests I thought to myself what can I do to help this situation? If I was Superman I would run to the bathroom change into my tights and cape and carry the plane safely to its destination. I wasn’t Superman; I was just a man, and the realization came over me… I can do–nothing. That’s a hopeless, humbling feeling. Its especially difficult for a guy to admit they can do nothing. I thought, “there is nothing I can do to keep this plane from crashing.” If it was going to crash, it was going to crash. It was oddly calming to realize I could only control how I responded to this situation, but I couldn’t control the final outcome. Well, we landed safely on the Denver runway; ambulances, police and fire trucks rushed in to make sure everyone was safe. As we all got off the plane you could feel the collective sigh of relief. Sensitive to the trauma we had all just experienced, the airline gave each of us a $5 coupon along with their apologies. “Ladies and gentlemen we’re sorry we almost killed you today, please except this $5 coupon!” Ha!! That was funny! Seriously, can you even get a cup of coffee for 5 bucks at an airport?
Being in control is something I like. I like being the one in charge. I like to know I can control the outcome. I don’t like when I can’t see what’s coming. Take the ocean for example: I like the ocean if I’m on a boat or on the beach, but treading water in the ocean freaks me out because I can’t see what’s below me! I’m a planner. I like to know I have several options. I feel bad for saying this, but being on that plane was almost freeing knowing I wasn’t in control anymore; knowing I couldn’t fix anything. I had to completely surrender my fears, hopes, dreams, future, everything and everyone. What will happen to my wife if I don’t make it through this? What will my brother and mother do? All my what ifs’ were completely put to a slamming halt when I realized I was completely helpless. I felt like a baby needing someone to feed or change me–completely and utterly helpless. And you know what? It felt good! I felt like in the midst of the smoke coming into the cabin and the plane beginning to shake that I could relax. Sounds crazy right?
There’s something to be said about not being in control, or better yet being able to admit you’re not in control. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” The key is His will not our will; there’s a big difference. I love in Luke 8 where Jesus and his disciples are in a boat crossing the lake. It says that after they started across the lake Jesus settled down for a nap and then a violent storm hit. The disciples woke him up shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm. Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” In the message he says, “Why can’t you trust me?” I guess you could say their plane’s engine failed, all hope was gone and they were no longer in control. What would have happened if instead of waking him one of the disciples stopped them and said, “hold up! This guy’s done a lot today, he healed a Roman officer’s servant without even going to his house, he healed a man with leprosy, he raised a widow’s son from the dead, healed Peter’s mother-in-law, and then cast out several demons from people! He’s tired let him sleep. Besides if he can do all of that then he can get us safely through this storm.” Now that would have been faith. Trusting that God’s will would be done. It’s easy to say, but much harder to practice.
What if God’s will is for the plane to crash, or the boat to sink? Would we be fine with that? You can tell a lot about someone’s character when they’re not in control. How do they respond during crisis? Are you a control freak? Do you have to always know the plan? Can you give the controls over to the pilot and say, “you’re trained for this, I’m not, you land the plane.” There’s something freeing about not being in control. Give up the controls of your life to the ultimate pilot, Jesus Christ. I promise you, you will be less stressed knowing he’s flying. Much love!