Saturday, December 19, 2009

We're Plunging into the Ocean!

“Sir, please place your belongings on the table for inspection.” All toothpaste, gels, fluids are removed and taken away to be destroyed. This is the sixth time I have been searched as I walked through the Manila Airport. I wonder what is happening. Why is the security so tight? Finally in the holding area I find out that there is a security threat to blow up a US bound airplane departing out of the Manila Airport by Al-Qaeda. As you recall all the inspections, watch all the police dogs walking around sniffing you and your bags and observe officers watching you as you wait for the plane to lead up, you can’t help having a feeling in your stomach. Will this flight be the last one? Do I feel like flying today?

Finally we are able to board the plane. Taking my seat I lean back and begin to think of home. I wonder what the family is doing and I long to see them. Traveling isn’t bad but it can be tiring as it leaves you emotionally fatigued. Every trip is a torrent of dealing with issues, problems, strategy development, encouraging those who serve and a level of member care. But it is worth it as you know new churches are being started, lost people are finding Jesus and hope is coming to many new believers. You think about this and remind yourself, Yes, It Is Worth It! Oh, the announcements are done and we are beginning to take off. The taxi and familiar rumble down the runway now the gentle swoosh into the sky. Aahh, closing my eyes I imagine being home again.

Roughly two hours into the 14 hour flight we are over the Pacific Ocean and the seatbelt sign flashed on at the same time the captain’s voice comes over the intercom, “Please make sure your seatbelts are fastened as we are experiencing turbulence that will get worse.” Moments later over head bins begin to shutter and a few fly open spilling their contents on top of passengers and into the aisle.

I heard the captain say turbulence but this is not very normal. We are swaying from side to side, being tossed up and down, people begin to scream and clutch each other. The plane is being tossed around violently. Your mind races back to all the security inspections and you begin to wonder if something more is happening. If so would they tell us and risk chaos? You remember that Al-Qaeda was plotting to kill hundreds of people on an east bound US plane. Maybe this is it! Quietly I begin to pray and ask God for another chance to see my family. I think, “Is this how it all ends for me, a plunge into the ocean?” I now am moved to begin to pray for the people on the plane. I look down the aisle and extend my hand to a flight attendant who has fallen. Helping her up she smiles and rapidly gets to a seat and buckles in.

This violence buffets the plane for about three more minutes. In all my flying more than a million miles I have never experienced this type of turbulence before. Then we begin to smooth out, finally it is over. Silence fills the plane. Everyone is just sitting and collecting their emotions. I hear small whimpers here and there but for the most part all are fine. The calm voice of the captain is once again heard over the intercom, “folks, please remain seated as our crew comes through the cabin and checks are made to make sure everyone is okay. We just experience a wind shear and the plane is fine.” The flight attendants walk the aisles and a few of us help get the luggage back into the overhead bins. Reflection time!

Have you ever thought about the end? I did. I wondered what it will be like. What will my family feel? Have I told them enough times that I love them? Internally I sob as I realize the love I have for them. The privilege of life itself. Have I shown it? How can I be more to those I love? I think about the gift of another life to come that is with the Eternal God of peace and love. The one I have a chance to know personally. Am I doing all I can to know Him? Change, I have to ask Him to help me change. I need to tell those I love more often that I love them!

During this Christmas make sure you show your love to all!

This is your investment. This is your joy.

Mark Szymanski

1 comment:

Faith said...

Thanks for sharing these thoughts with us Mark. I am glad you are safely home and I hope you have a season of JOY at home with your family. You are a blessing and bring such delight to the heart of God!