I despise airplane turbulence. Even though I enjoy
high-speed roller coasters, there is something about hurling through
stormy skies in a commercial jetliner at 37,000 feet that turns my
knuckles white. This is why I always ask for a window seat. Whenever we
hit rough air and the seat belt sign flashes on, I feel safer if I can
But that didn’t help me recently when I
was flying into Canada. I was not aware that rough weather was raging
below and that parts of Vancouver were flooding. All I knew was that
our journey though Canadian airspace reminded me of Doctor Doom’s
Fearfall—a theme-park ride I’ve enjoyed many times with my daughters.
That ride lasts only a few seconds, and it is firmly
bolted to the ground. The turbulence over British Columbia lasted half
It was 11 p.m., and I couldn’t see anything outside my
window except horizontal rain. I kept reminding myself that the pilot
was using radar and other high-tech instruments to avoid crashing into
the side of a mountain. But my knuckles did not believe this. I
clutched the armrest, prayed and—for a few seconds—wondered how my wife
would plan my funeral.
Of course the plane did not break apart
in mid-air. When we descended below the cloud cover and the lights of
the city became visible, all my color returned. I breathed a prayer of
thanksgiving when I heard the familiar sound of wheels touching the
You may not share my fear of turbulence,
but all of us have walked though scary times in life when we couldn’t
see the path in front of us. Many people I know are going through such
times right now because of the economic downturn. Some are facing job
loss, financial hardships, foreclosures or unusual spiritual challenges.
Churches, too, are finding it hard to
navigate change. More people than ever are in a season of transition
because old business models don’t work, and ministry paradigms are
shifting. Some of us find ourselves digging our fingernails into the
armrest while the plane is bouncing all over the stormy sky. And when
we look out the window we see nothing but darkness.
I have found comfort in the words David
penned after he escaped from Saul’s pursuits. He wrote in Psalm 18:4-6:
“The cords of death encompassed me, and the torrents of ungodliness
terrified me. … In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to
my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple, and my cry for
help came into His ears” (NASB).
In describing God’s
just-in-the-nick-of-time rescue, David borrowed vivid imagery from the
day when God opened the Red Sea to deliver His children from Egypt.
“The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered His
voice. …Then the channels of water appeared, and the foundations of
the world were laid bare. …He sent from on high, He took me; He drew
me out of many waters. … He brought me forth also into a broad place;
He rescued me, because He delighted in me” (vv. 13-19).
David’s transition wasn’t easy. In the
most difficult moment he noted that God had “made darkness His hiding
place” (v. 11). We must remember that darkness is not a sign that God
has abandoned us. It became stormy just before the Red Sea split open.
Yet God was working behind the scenes, even when the clouds were black
and the wind was violent.
If you are in the midst of a transition,
hold tightly to His promise as you enter this new year of 2010. You can
trust Him. Better things are still to come. In yet a little while He
Don’t focus on your job crisis, the bad economic news,
your lack of options or the bumpiness of the ride. Call upon the Lord.
When His lightning flashes, He will split the obstacles in front of you
and make a dry roadbed in the midst of the sea. He can make a way where
there is no way.
Ask the Lord to transport you. Eventually you will hear
the sound of wheels touching down on the wet runway. You are helpless
to make this transition on your own, but your Deliverer will safely
carry you from your present crisis into a broad place of future
J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma. You can find him on Twitter at leegrady.