Alongside The Storm

I wish pilots wouldn’t announce it.

“Ladies and gentleman,” he announced to our plane, “we’re going to be a bit delayed.  Right now they’ve closed down one flight path for us due to some severe oncoming storms, so we’re trying to find another one.”

I did not need to know this.  I did not want to know this.   I am a nervous flier and I would have been far better off not knowing.  Tell me we’re delayed, sure, but don’t tell me why, especially when the why sounds like impending doom.  I had hoped for a relaxing flight home from our vacation (and my ten-day blogging break) and “oncoming storms” were not what I wanted to hear about.

What’s worse is that I had way too much time to think about those “oncoming storms” as we taxied for a full hour on the runway, the pilots going back and forth with ground control to try to figure out where on earth we could fly safely.  People around us grumbled.  A baby cried.  A few seats ahead, a guy – whom I knew to be a frequent flier because of an earlier conversation – sighed and consulted his cell phone.  “They’re taking forever,” he muttered.  “Those storms are going to be right on top of us.”

More announcements.  A new route was opened.  The flight attendant assured us we would take off soon…if we had the fuel.  And then, suddenly, the announcement: third in line for takeoff.  “We will reach altitude at 10,000 feet,” the flight attendant told us, “to fly low and avoid the storms.  Please keep your seatbelts on for the duration of the flight.”

Translation: this is going to be a rough ride.

We took off.  And at some point I looked to my right, through the window, and was both terrified and amazed: we were literally flying at the edge of a storm.  I could see the lightning flashes inside black clouds.  And the storm was huge.  From my perspective, in the air, it looked like a roiling black mass lit from within, seething over the city below us.

“Dude,” said the guy in the next aisle as he peered out the window.  “That’s awesome.”

And you know what?  It was.

Yeah, the plane ride was a little bumpy.  But it wasn’t as bad as I’d feared.  And even though it was bizarre and terrifying to literally fly alongside a storm, it was also strangely comforting to know that it wasn’t going to harm us.  Somehow, out of all the flight paths available – most of which had been closed down because they went directly into the heart of the bad weather – ground control and our flight crew had worked together an arrow-shot path through all the chaos to our destination.

I had forgotten, in my nervousness, that these people know what they are doing.  They know it really, really well.

The thing is, when we’re in the storms – or alongside them – it’s easy to over-value our own judgment and to under-value the judgment of those who know best.  I know what I’m looking at, we think.  That’s a storm, is what it is.  There’s no way to get through that safely.  What are they thinking?  Do they not see how the weather’s moving?  Do they not notice those storms are right on top of us?

Of course they know.  Of course they see.  It’s their business to know and see and figure it out.  And in our own personal private storms, when the chaos of life has washed up over everything and looms large in our judgment, it’s God’s business to know and see what is best for us.  To figure out that arrow-shot path through all the darkness.  To go about the business of getting us through.

Because that is what He has promised – that He will see us through.

So the next time you’re headed into a storm or are sitting beside one, and God keeps pulling you in the direction that you don’t want to go, reconsider your perspective.  Reflect that going through storms warps our judgment and shifts our priorities, not always in the best sorts of ways.  We can’t see it all.  We don’t have the expertise.  And it’s better to leave the work of getting through to the One who has the eyes to see all and the wisdom to make the proper choices required.




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