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Steady Faith: How Life Is Like a Plane Ride

I was more jittery than usual on a recent flight. With every bump, dip, and change of incline, I felt twinges of genuine fear. If you’re anything like me, at 30,000 feet a small lurch due to turbulence can have you envisioning catastrophic engine failure and a horrifying plunge to imminent death.

In reality, I don’t have much to be afraid of. In the past year, the bizarre Malaysian flight was the only commercial plane to crash. Yet that remarkable fact is still not enough to quell my nerves. I suppose as Father Robert Sirico said during his opening address at this year’s Acton University, “We only pretend to live in a world that takes empirical evidence seriously.”

This is a trivial example, but I think it illustrates some important truths about living life through faith.

First, life—like a plane ride—is kind of terrifying when you think about it. Let’s face it: we live fragile lives in a broken and uncertain world. We will all experience periods of great pain, misery, and loneliness. Each of our daily decisions might affect the courses of our lives. And the scariest part is the realization that much of life is out of our control. Thinking about it almost makes soaring through the air in a metal tube seem tame.

This understanding of powerlessness is hard to swallow, but also incredibly healthy. It causes you to take account of the true nature of things. It makes you ponder who is in control and decide how much you are going to trust whoever that is.

On the plane ride, my life was in the hands of a couple of guys who I’ve never met, but who at least seem to be competent and have my welfare in their interest (they seemed like very polite gentlemen over the intercom). And yet, all I can do as the plane bounces through turbulence is close my eyes, say a prayer, and hope these pilots are not impostors. I trust them, but not fully, and somehow think I’ve cheated fate every time I land safely on the ground.

[pq]With steady faith, we can trade anxiety for a happy, fulfilling, and hopeful life.[/pq]

My approach to life tends to be similarly anxious. I usually try to forget that I don’t have control over every aspect of my life, but when I can’t deny it and when I feel the turbulence of life, the same twinges of fear take over. What am I going to do with my life? Will I always feel lonely? When it undoubtedly happens, how will I get through the loss of a loved one? Do I trust the One who is in control? Sadly, my faith is lacking. Instead of responding to the bumps and dips of life with steady faith, I cringe with fear, doubt, and hopelessness.

My desire for my own life, and the lives of everyone, is that we would recognize that our God is not an impostor. He is deeply interested in our welfare. He knows the plans that He has for us, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). Knowing that, we can overcome hardships by having a long view of our lives. There is brokenness in each of our lives, but the full story that God is telling through each of them is a beautiful tale of redemption.

Beyond our personal lives, the implications of this perspective on freedom, government, and the type of society that we choose to form are immense, but that is a topic for another post.

For now, the next time you’re on a flight, think about the remarkable situation that you find yourself in. Think about the necessary trust that you have to put in the pilots. And then consider how much trust you have in the pilot of your life. With steady faith and constant prayer, we can trade nervous jitters for a happy, fulfilling, and hopeful life.