I hate flying.
The physics of flight are both amazing and terrifying. But if you ask me, it defies logic. The Boeing 777-300, like the one I recently took from Los Angeles to Hong Kong, can carry over 500 passengers. It’s over 200 feet long and weighs in the range of 2.5 tons when fully loaded at takeoff. In my non-engineering mind, this thing should never get off the ground. It doesn’t seem natural. Birds were made to fly, not this enormous mass of metal. Yet if a highly-flammable fuel catapults it fast enough, it will rise into the air and cruise at an average of 35,000 feet above the earth. The whole idea is that if you just go fast enough, you won’t fall to the ground (assuming it doesn’t explode!) This sorta freaks me out.
Then there’s human element. Nobody can guarantee that the flight will arrive safely. I don’t know the pilots or crew and no matter how skilled or well-intentioned they may be, they can’t predict everything. And the other passengers? With bombs found in shoes and underwear, everyone is suspect when I board a plane. The reality is that many things can go wrong and, despite their stellar track record, history has proven that bad things do happen. Just watch CNN.
Finally, there’s the total lack of control. Every time we leave the ground, I’ve just put my life in some strangers’ hands. This is definitely outside of my comfort zone.
Still, I fly. If I let my concerns keep me on the ground, I would never get to the places I want to go. From Dragonair in Southeast Asia to Air Uganda to TAROM in Romania, I’ve flown the scary skies of many countries. I may be a white-knuckled flyer, but fear doesn’t hold me back.
The same can be true with our faith.
In some ways, it defies logic – human logic, at least. We are told to lose our life in order to find it. The first are last and the least are greatest. The only savior is one who died, then came back to life. There’s a serious strain of thinking here that isn’t natural. In fact, it can only be called supernatural.
Again, there’s the human element. Many well-intentioned people, including leaders, have drifted way off track. Some have even used the name of God for their own selfish or nefarious means. People in churches can be hypocritical, mean-spirited, and downright human. If faith depended on mankind, there’s no way I’d ever get on board. Fortunately, it doesn’t. We are not called to be like other people, but like Christ himself.
Finally, there’s the little issue of control. We are asked to trust a God we can’t even see. We must believe that He is able and that He is good. We put our lives in His hands and have faith that His flight plan is the best course for us.
These fears, and dozens of others, can keep us stuck on the ground. We are afraid to really commit. We buy a ticket to fly, but stay in the terminal where it’s safe. We wear tourist t-shirts from exotic places and pretend like we’ve been there. We insist that we will only get on board if we can steer. Or we let our past hurts from other “passengers” hold us back. The result is that we never get to the places we want to go – the places God intends for us to go.
As believers, we are made to soar far above this earth, going places impossible to go under our own power and doing things we never imagined. If we will get on board, we will discover a journey that is exciting and fulfilling. Our ticket is free – Christ already paid for it. We must simply get fully on board with the knowledge that there’s no turning back. He will navigate when we quit trying to storm the cockpit. We just need to follow His instructions and endure the flight. Then and only then will we “rise above.”
Randy Robison’s new book Rise Above: How To Go Faster, Farther, and Higher in Your Faith is available at lifetoday.org.