“Why are You so Afraid?”

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“Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” – Mark 4:40

Jesus asked his disciples this after they woke him from his sleep in the stern of their boat, during a violent storm. They were frightened for their lives.

I felt that same fear one day in February 1985. Sue, Leah (our eldest, then 18 months old), and I were flying home to Binghamton, NY, from San Angelo, TX. I had just completed training at Goodfellow Air Force Base and we were about to move overseas. You don’t fly to Binghamton from San Angelo without a few connecting flights. The trip became a 15-hour episode of Survivor. When we ran out of diapers for Leah, the gate agent at JFK airport made a desperate terminal intercom plea for diaper donations. As stressful as the journey was, the last leg of the trip to Binghamton is still etched in my mind as one of the most fearful moments of my life.

At that point, Sue and I had about 4 or 5 airplane trips between us. I’ve since made hundreds of flights on Air Force and commercial aircraft during and since my military career. But my flying inexperience made this the most frightful flight I’ve ever known. We climbed aboard a small Beechcraft commuter twin-prop plane that I knew had to be on loan from a Kansas crop farmer. The cockpit and cabin were meant to be separated by a curtain that remained open during the flight. The engine noise was absolutely deafening as we weaved around in the dark, turbulent air, rolling up, down and side to side. Looking out the window, I held Leah and clung to our seat knowing this was the end of our young lives. Eventually, I got enough nerve to look up to the cockpit, where I was certain the pilots would be frantically trying to bring the airship under control, while crying out “MAYDAY” over the radios.

Instead, I saw two guys wearing headsets, who looked as if they were casually retelling a story of a great memory they had shared–like a father and son conversing, with lots of big nods and smiles back and forth to one another. Immediately, there was an assurance that things couldn’t be as bad in the cockpit as I knew they must be where I was sitting. With each twist and bop the aircraft took, I felt new fear. But I would force myself to watch the pilots, waiting to find their panic. It never came. Reassured. They had been here before, many times.

“Because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” – Hebrews 7:24-25

When we are gripped with fear and feel like everything is out of control, we need to keep our eyes on the Son who is ALWAYS interceding with the Father for us. Just as the pilots on that dreadful flight, Jesus isn’t panicked. And just as I had the access I needed to the pilots because of that open curtain, we have full access to God the Father because Jesus has removed the veil that separated us from him.

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