The plane hit a patch of turbulence and shook.
Not wanting to overreact, I clenched my fists, trying not to grab the armrests and betray my worry. But then we soared into another current in the atmosphere and the plane was shaking and I was bracing myself on the seat in front of me, praying under my breath so as not to alarm my fellow passengers.
Despite the fearfulness I was experiencing, I also chuckled a little interiorly. The seat in front of me couldn’t save me. Clinging to the armrest won’t do much good. If the plane was going down, it was going down. How foolish it seemed to grab onto the material things that surrounded me, expecting them to pull me to safety.
Yet it is what I felt compelled to do. I had to actively think about not grabbing onto something in order to remain steadfast, but it took no thought to latch onto anything close at hand in a moment of chaos. It was an impulse, illogical though it may have been in the larger scheme of things. The actions I took weren’t helpful, but they were something.
As the plane continued the flight uneventfully, I knew that the reason I clutched something was because I wanted to hold onto someone. If I was married and flying with my husband, I would have unthinkingly grabbed onto him. If I was with my sister, I probably would have reached for her arm. And while the bumpy flight did leave me longing for a husband to comfort me, it also reminded me that my fictional husband wouldn’t have been able to change the course of that plane. Like the seatback and the armrest, we would have been going down together.
What a gift, I thought then, that I’m in this position of longing and am able to see that the one I long for is the Lord. If I had a husband or my sister at my side, I would have thought I could muscle through it with them. I would have wanted to rely on them to bolster my flagging courage. But I didn’t. Instead, by pure necessity, I was flying to the Lord, asking Him to be with the pilot, to be with my fraught nerves, to teach me to trust in Him even if the plane did go down.
Aware of my need, I turned to the Lord. And I thought about how quickly I was likely to replace Him if I had someone nearer to fly to, someone completely tangible.
On a plane shivering in the turbulence, in a state of life I never pray to remain in, I found myself grateful for an opportunity to turn immediately to the Lord. And I prayed that I would have the grace to always do so, even if my place or state change.