My heart is in my stomach, and my stomach feels like it’s somewhere near my hips. And the hips don’t lie. I occasionally reach up to casually wipe away a bead of sweat that has formed just above my eyebrows, and if I weren’t trying to be cool, calm, and collected in front of my visibly nervous bride, I’d be trembling in fear.
After spending roughly nine hours on the tarmac at Richmond International Airport due to poor weather conditions (read: TSA ain’t got their act together in Atlanta), it is now 8:24pm and we are finally in the air after our plane was “de-iced”, a term I truly wish they would simply replace with “maintained”, or “sprinkled with pixie dust”.
We’re headed to the G3 Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. We were the smart ones who booked a flight this year after driving 11 hours last year to get there. We paid a buncha money to remove the frustration of a long driving day, and it has now officially taken us longer to get there than it took our friends who drove and got there a few hours ago.
Now, here I sit, in this container made by a plethora of non-flying plastic and metal parts, bolted together, that, Lord willing, will carry me to Atlanta to learn more about the God whom I always profess to be sovereign and in control of every circumstance in which we find ourselves.
And I’m in sin as I type this. With every bump, I find myself not trusting Him. With every slight dip in altitude that causes that brief weightless feeling in my stomach, I find myself doubting His sovereignty. With every glance out the window at the ant-sized city lights that remind me of the ant that I am in the grand scheme of things, I find myself not feeling much different than every other pagan whose hope is in his or her best life now.
I don’t get anxious about much, but I’m very anxious, approaching terrified, of heights, being confined in tight spaces, and being in a place from which I cannot escape. So, for me, Delta should just change their slogan to, “Delta Airlines – The Perfect Storm.”
I am quick to remind all my friends of John 14 when they confess to me that they are anxious about something. I almost look down my nose at them when they say they are nervous about something that hasn’t happened, and over which I couldn’t imagine being anxious. Forgive me, O Lord, for my hypocrisy.
When Jesus finishes telling Peter that He will be leaving him soon, Peter is understandably worried about this news. As we see at the end of Chapter 13, Peter says, “Lord, where are you going? Why can I not follow?” Jesus explains that he will follow afterward, but that still leaves Peter in a state of anxiety and confusion.
In Chapter 14, Jesus commands his followers to “let not [their] hearts be troubled”, and this is in light of the news that was just conveyed: that Jesus, the Author and Finisher of their faith, was going to leave His disciples. Can we ponder that for a moment? Imagine you are an Apostle. You’ve spent years traveling with the Creator and Savior of the world, in the flesh, sojourning in town after town, observing, first-hand, multitudes of miracles, multitudes of people being drawn to Christ, multitudes of laws being fulfilled in the Messiah. You’ve dropped everything that was important to you and submitted to, followed, and worshiped the King of kings for a thousand days.
Then, one day, out of the blue, He turns to you and says, “Hey, by the way, I’m leaving you. Soon, I will go away, and you will not be able to come with me.” Imagine the hopelessness. Imagine the despair. Imagine the anxiety. The Lord Jesus Christ, God incarnate, has just told you that He’s peacin’ out.
We have to remember that the Apostles, at that point in time, didn’t understand that the Helper, the Holy Spirit, would soon indwell them, giving them the same power that would raise Christ from the dead. They just thought God was leaving them.
And even then, they were commanded to not worry. Even then, they were told to curb their anxiety. Even then, they were ordered to trust in God.
How much MORE do we know about our great God now than the Apostles did then?! How much MORE comfort do we have with the complete canon of scripture compared with the Apostles limited knowledge then? Yet, we hold on to our anxiety. We hold on to our fear of the unknown. We hold on to trepidation of heights and small spaces. We hold on to those things knowing that God, who was powerful enough to raise Himself from the dead, defeating death forever, is also solely in complete control of our every circumstance, all the way down to the very breaths we take, to every beat of our hearts, to the involuntary blinking of the eyelid.
Saints, let not our hearts be troubled, for Luke 12 tells us that the Creator of the universe and Sustainer of all things has numbered the hairs on our heads! Not one of five sparrows, together worth two pennies, is forgotten before God; and we are of more value than many sparrows!
Let us rejoice that He who measures the expanse of the universe in the palm of His hand also, in eternity past, appointed a day for us to be born, and a day for us to die. Likewise, every day in between has been divinely predestined for our good, to conform us to the image of Christ, and for His glory! May we seek to glorify His marvelous name in every circumstance!
Soli Deo Gloria!