I love coffee. Like, if I could be in a relationship with an inanimate object it would be a black cup of Sumatra. No relationship is perfect, but when I’m in love, I have a tendency to overlook the other's flaws. In this case, I glance over the fact caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it makes you to go to the restroom. Recently I was in the Detroit airport on my way to Los Angeles, drinking in the sight of planes taking off to destinations unknown as I sipped on my giant, $5 pick-me-up from the airport Caribou. I finished my latte as my flight number boomed over the loudspeaker and I boarded the 767 bound for the city of angels. Within minutes of settling into 31G, the unthinkable happened. I had to pee. Bad. This wasn’t your normal, afternoon visit to the loo either; this felt like a little man was jumping rope on top of my bladder. As I crossed my legs and tried to distract myself with SkyMall, we taxied to the runway and soon were soaring high above the clouds. If you’ve flown before, you’ve certainly noticed the lighted seatbelt sign above your head; you know, the one that usually goes dark a few minutes after takeoff. Well half-an-hour into our flight and the little luminescent permission slip to move about the cabin was still very much illuminated. As someone who flies a lot, I often bend the rules; take things into my own hands. I’m the guy who keeps listening to music as the plane is landing, and I’m not above flirting with the flight attendant to get a whole can of Sprite. Anyway, as my renal system swelled to what felt like the size of a small watermelon, I made the executive decision to rush to the toilet in spite of the lit symbol. I figured the captain got too busy playing Sudoku he forgot to turn off the fasten seatbelt sign. When I climbed over my seatmate the flight attendant gave me a look of disapproval, but didn’t say anything as I slipped into the vacant lavatory. Right when I started to breathe a sigh of relief, the plane suddenly began to shake like Miley Cyrus at the VMA Awards. We had hit turbulence. It was like riding a rollercoaster at Cedar Point except 400 times faster and I wasn’t wearing pants. The shuddering was over as quickly as it began but it was already too late. Pulling up my soiled jeans and walking past a now smirking flight attendant I made it back to my seat just in time to hear the captain say, “It’s now safe to move around the aircraft.”
Next time you fly, look in the cockpit, it’s like the Starship Enterprise in there. Big buttons, bright lights, screens and radars dot the nose of a Boeing jet from wall to wall. That afternoon the captain had seen something I couldn’t. Anticipated something I had no way of knowing. He didn’t forget to turn off the sign because he was sitting in his leather chair playing ‘Candy Crush’; he was looking out for the wellbeing of myself and the 300 other people onboard the plane. In the four hours and thirty-nine minutes following my confrontation with the vacuum toilet, it hit me… I have a trust problem, an issue with allowing someone else to have control.
If you’ve been reading my other posts, a prevailing theme has been my wanderlust, my search for meaning and purpose in the “next great adventure.” I have a tendency to be impatient, wanting to rush into my future. Refusing to accept where I’m at right now is where God wants me to be; believing my plans somehow trump His. All too quickly I forget He operates with the long-view in mind and sometimes I wonder if He’s forgotten to turn the overhead light off. Yet I’ve come to realize when I chase after instant gratification instead of His delayed reward, I end up making a fool of myself and needing a change of clothes.
Jesus certainly took the long view. If you look at the life of Christ, little is known about his first thirty-three years walking the earth. He lived the majority of his life in relative anonymity, faithfully swinging a hammer; waiting patiently to rip off the proverbial seatbelt and take the world by storm. He placed his trust and relinquished control of his life to his Father and waited.
There’s the root of it all. The waiting. We’ve bought into the cultural myth that waiting is synonymous with doing nothing. Yet, in God’s economy, waiting is just the opposite. It’s everything. Waiting is taking the long-view and understanding He sees things we can’t. Waiting is trusting God is who He says He is, a faithful, loving, intimately personal King. Waiting is relinquishing control, faithfully abdicating our plans because we serve a God who has a better one in store. It’s in moving from a state of striving to a place of abiding we find the most freedom.
Personally, I’ve found too often I kneel before God and plead for Him to reveal what’s next. To give me even just a quick glance at the map. As each month seemingly passes more quickly than the last and graduation suddenly looms in the distance, I want to take off my seatbelt and charge the cockpit. But in the same way I wouldn’t know how to make sense of the gizmos and gadgets in a jumbo jet, I’d be lost in my attempt to interpret the Lord's plan for my life. I can't see what lies ahead but I serve a God who does. I’m beginning understand my Father is good all the time, like the captain of the jet, He operates with my best interest in mind. Yet I’ve fallen into the trap of loving Jesus for what He does instead of loving Him for who He is. I’m starting to seek Christ for Christ, waiting at the foot of the cross instead of seeking Him for His blessing or "the plan." Prayerfully listening for the vision to be unveiled in due time from my humble seat in coach. Learning not to focus so much on when I’ll get the signal to “go” but rather resting in the arms of my Creator and enjoying the ride of life. I used to think God was distant, up in the sky playing games but now I know I can trust in Immanuel, God with me, even in the midst of my waiting.