OPELIKA, Ala. (BP)–Isn’t it funny how the personality traits that first attracted us to our husbands drive us crazy later? Take my husband Jim, for instance. He has always approached adventure with reckless abandon. The fact that he enjoyed rappelling down steep mountains Australian style (upside down) and making 230-foot bungee jumps sent shivers of excitement and intrigue through my entire body, making him the most irresistible man I had ever met. So I married him.
Thirteen years and two kids later, I was frying pork chops when Jim waltzed into the kitchen with that mischievous boy-have-I-got-an-idea look on his face. The wild zeal in his eyes told me I needed to brace myself for what was coming next.
“I want to fly airplanes,” he grinned. I wanted to cover my ears and chant, “I’m not going to listen to you. I’m not going to listen to you.” But instead, I decided to be mature about it.
“Have you lost your mind? Do you think I’m going to offer my blessing and seal my fate as a widow at the age of 34? If you do this, I’m never speaking to you again!” (Stomp, stomp, stomp, slam).
Two days and many prayers later, I boldly proclaimed (with one hand on my pajamaed hip and the other waving my toothbrush in the air), “Okay, if you want to do this it’s fine with me. But let’s get one thing clear, buddy. Neither I nor any of your offspring will ever get in that airplane with you!”
Three months later, I was climbing into the back of the airplane. Jim kissed my cheek and promised, “You’re gonna love it.” My excessive fear of heights, however, was screaming otherwise. To make matters worse, Jim’s flight instructor announced, “Jim, today we’re going to work on your shaky landings.”
I leaned forward and lightly tapped the instructor’s shoulder. “Excuse me, what did you say? For a second there, I thought you said we were going to work on Jim’s shaky landings.”
The instructor chuckled at my anxiety as Jim began speaking some sort of numeric jargon into the microphone. “Auburn traffic Skyhawk eight-niner-eight-four-seven departing runway three-six.” But all I heard was, “Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! We’re all going to die!”
With eyes tightly shut and sweat pouring from my otherwise calm demeanor, I decided the seatbelt was not all it’s cracked up to be. I assumed crash position. I braced myself by pressing my feet against the back of the front seats and my palms flat on the ceiling of the plane (for when we rolled, of course). I began confessing all of my sins as I begged for God’s mercy. I felt the plane lift off the runway. Nothing happened. Ten minutes later, I forced open one eye to see if I had arrived at the pearly gates. Nope, it wasn’t the pearly gates but it was something that took my breath away: a thrilling and fantastic view of God’s creation.
An overwhelming sense of peace washed over me. I began to bask in the beauty of it all. I began to see what attracted Jim to flying. The freedom of sailing with the clouds over the earth was like a glorious tour of God’s handiwork — and my husband was my tour guide. Pride fluttered in my heart as I glanced at his handsome face etched with wild excitement. In spite of his shaky landings, I was glad to share in his adventure that day.
Looking back, I realize that the way I protested going flying with Jim is the same way I often protest going somewhere God wants me to go. When God first called me to speak and write on a national level, I wanted to cover my ears and chant, “I’m not going to listen to you. I’m not going to listen to you.” I questioned, “Do You think I’m going to make a big fool out of myself by speaking in front of thousands of people all over the country?”
Two years later, I was speaking at Saddleback Church in California and being interviewed on national television and radio. Was it against my will? At first, you bet it was. The fear and anxiety that plagued my heart every time I took the microphone threatened to choke out my obedience. Then one day, I opened one eye and looked around. I saw what God saw: the beauty of His handiwork through an obedient life.
Do I experience shaky landings? Yep. Like the time I was in the middle of speaking and an 80-year-old man in the audience stood up and yelled, “Hey, what’s going on here? I thought this was where the prostate cancer support group was meeting!” Then he proceeded to walk down the aisle, in front of the stage, and out the door like Tim Conway from the Carrol Burnett Show as he mumbled something about “women having no business in a prostate cancer support group meeting.” Then there was the time I swallowed a bug mid-sentence and nearly passed out from choking.
However, I have found that even in disastrous situations, God still fulfills His purpose when I surrender to His will.
We must not wrap ourselves in a cocoon of fear and anxiety over what might happen if we move out of our comfort zones. We must obey God’s calling on our lives. We must step out in faith and allow Him to take the clumsy caterpillar and transform it into a beautiful butterfly. He has a perfect plan for our lives that can only be fulfilled if we are willing to shed our cocoons and fly with Him. In spite of the shaky landings, it’s worth the ride.
Ginger Plowman, author of “Wise Words for Moms” and “Don’t Make Me Count to Three!” (available 2004), is the founder of Preparing the Way Ministries for which she speaks on biblical parenting across the country. For more information visit her website at www.gingerplowman.com. Copyright 2003, Ginger Plowman. Used by permission.