I was having a long-overdo lunch with a dear friend who’s a true hero of mine because she, along with her incredible husband, have for years demonstrated sacrificial, unfailing love and unending patience as they’ve been full-time caretakers for their severely handicapped daughter, who’s now in her twenties. She shared with me that she was leaving in a couple of days to go on a rare trip to Boston to see family. Since she and her husband can’t be away from their daughter at the same, a friend of hers had planned on going along on the trip, but she had to cancel at the last minute. My friend—who has faced and overcome challenges I can’t even imagine— revealed to me that she dreaded the prospect of the flight because she had a tremendous fear of flying.
Although I admit to other fears, I’ve never had a fear of flying, so I was curious as to why she was scared to fly. She shared that she didn’t like heights, and that she was afraid of dying in a plane crash. I shared with her that I love flying. I find it provides a wonderful opportunity to connect with people I might otherwise never get the chance to meet, and it’s also a time when I feel a special connection to the Lord. My friend listened intently as I shared with her my perspective on flying. I've found that when we get our eyes off of ourselves and our fears—and onto God and the needs of others— that our fears are greatly diminished, and even can be entirely eliminated. Below are some things I shared with her about my view of flying:
1. It’s a Great Opportunity to Connect with Others: Besides being a means to get you to your final destination where adventure hopefully awaits, flying is a wonderful opportunity to meet new people who could impact your life, and whose life you could impact…perhaps for all eternity! I always pray before flying that the Lord will seat me next to the people He would like me to connect with for His purposes. I don’t even mind the center seat because that affords me the chance to possibly interact with two rather than just one person on my flight. I make sure to say ‘Hello’ and give a smile to my seat mates, asking them the reason for their trip and conversing with them long enough to see if they are open to conversation or not. I have found that most people LOVE to talk about themselves if you ask them open-ended questions. So many people suffer from loneliness, depression and a sense that no one really cares about them, so conversing with your seat mates can provide a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate to them that someone else does care about them and what’s going on in their life. My experience has been that most people will open up and share what’s in their hearts and minds if they know someone is truly interested in what they have to say; and I find it’s a true delight to get to know other people! And, if they in turn ask me questions, it gives me the opportunity to share my faith in the Lord, which is central to my life so I always find a way to insert my love for Him into my response to their questions. Visiting with my seat mates has given me the chance to connect with and encourage fellow believers—several of whom I have stayed in contact with after the flight— as well as to share Jesus’ love with those who don’t have a relationship with Him. I look at the flight as an opportunity for me to be able to give someone who doesn’t know Jesus the opportunity to associate a smiling, caring face and genuine interest in them with His Name!
2) It’s a Great Opportunity to Connect with God: Flying affords me the perfect opportunity to ponder the magnificence of God Who created the earth, the sky, the clouds, mankind, and all that is in the universe! I love to look upon the things on earth that seem so large when I’m ‘earthbound’ but grow increasingly smaller as the plane takes off until they disappear all together from sight…that view helps put my life into perspective and serves to humble me when I’m tempted to think that I am a ‘big deal’! It also causes me to marvel at how incredible God is! He sees everything throughout the world, and at all times—no matter how big or how small—and He loves all of His creation, especially ‘ puny’ mankind whom He came to earth to save! The perspective you gain from flying reminds me of this scripture: When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Psalm 8:3-4 ESV
As the plane ascends to greater heights and I consider the vastness of the skies, I gain a greater revelation of God’s lavish love and His infinitely wise ways as I think upon scriptures like the ones below:
Your loving devotion, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, Your steadfastness to the clouds. Psalm 36:5 ESV
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. Psalm 103: 11-12 ESV
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV
Focusing my thoughts upon God’s infinite power and incredible wisdom as the Creator of the earth, the skies, the clouds, and everything in the universe—including giving man the wherewithal to even know how to fly planes— and fixing my thoughts upon His lavish love for me, which reaches to the heavens, gives me great peace and joy when I fly.
3) It’s a Great Opportunity to Contemplate What Will Happen After Death: So let’s be honest: the thought of dying in a plane crash has probably crossed your mind, even though the chances of being in a plane crash is less than 1 in 11 million!!! So what if instead of fixing your thoughts on the extremely unlikely event that you might die in a plane crash, you think about the almost 100% likelihood that someday you will die (unless you are raptured!), and focus your thoughts upon where you’ll be and what you’ll be doing after your death. God tells us that to be absent from the body is to be present with Him; how glorious that will be! (2 Corinthians 5:8) God’s Word is filled with descriptions of Heaven, the promised destiny for all who have put their trust in Jesus and His atoning work on the cross on their behalf. Think of how changing your focus from a highly unlikely plane crash to the absolute assurance of a future in heaven can impact your plane ride…and your life! Although most people are afraid of death, we as Christians have no need to fear it for Christ’s death and resurrection means that death has lost its sting. We will finally get to see Jesus face-to-face and experience all of the glories that await us in Heaven that we were created to enjoy.
‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4 ESV
No eye has see, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him. 1 Corinthians 2:9 Berean Study Bible
And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal…. ….The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, like clear glass….The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb (Jesus). Revelation 21:10-11; 18-23 ESV
TESTIMONY FROM MY FRIEND: I checked with my friend after she got back from her trip to see what impact changing the focus of her thoughts had on her fear of flying. Here’s what she had to say:
On both flights upon take-off, I envisioned myself cradled in God’s enormous hands & being lifted up by Him. During the flight, while everyone around me was watching movies, I prayed for all the people on the plane. I prayed that each of them would have an encounter with God at their destination & that the Holy Spirit would soften their hearts in preparation for wherever they were going and whatever they were going to be doing. That all those saved on the plane would be re-inspired in their faith and have a great impact at their destination. I felt little to no fear right before or during the flight. I think the main thing that helped me was realizing that “THE WORST” thing that could happen is that I would be with God in Glory within 2 hours (the length of my flight). I thought about what God tells us in His Word about Heaven, and I imagined such things as the spectacular colors that are not known on earth, and the level of perfection of the music offerings. And I wondered what I’d be doing there—perhaps singing or playing an instrument again!
Do you see how changing your focus from being upon yourself and your fear to being upon God and seeing Him in the midst of your situation can make all of the difference if you have a fear…whether of flying, or something else? When fear arises in your life, I encourage you to choose not to focus upon yourself and what you fear but instead focus upon God, His Word, and seeing Him alongside you in the midst of your situation, as well as upon how you can be a blessing to others
You may be thinking, but Julie, I don’t know the Bible like you do so those scriptures that you mentioned don’t come to my mind when I go flying, or when I need them to counteract my own fears. There was certainly a time when I didn’t know the Bible well either. That’s why I would encourage you to do several things: 1) Read—or listen to— the Word daily so that you are feeding your soul with the life-giving Word of God; your mind is like a computer—what you enter into it can be retrieved whenever you need it. And the most important thing you can input into your mind is God’s Word, which is truth…the truth that you NEED, that CAN and WILL set you free from your fears IF you know and believe the truth of His Word. 2) Surround yourself with people who know God’s Word who can encourage you in that truth when you are tempted to succumb to your fear. Joining a Bible study or a prayer group with other mature believers is a great way to learn God’s Word and have fellowship with other believers who can come alongside you. 3) Feel free to contact Jamie and me by clicking on this link https://www.trueviewministries.org/contact and we will be happy to coach you in how to overcome your fears by helping you to learn and trust in the promises of God found in His Word. God has provided a promise in His Word that will equip you to overcome EVERY fear, and it is He, Who is Perfect Love, Who truly will enable you to cast out every fear as you fix your eyes upon Him, the Author and Perfecter of your faith!
Written by Julie Van Gorp