Thursday, October 11, 2012

Gripped By Fear

I have flown all my life.  My dad was in the Air Force (yes, I'm a military brat and unfortunately I live up to the latter part of that title more often than I'd like to admit).  He did multiple tours overseas which means I am no rookie when it comes to checking my bags.  I don't remember ever being afraid to fly when I was a kid, or a teenager, or even when I was in college, but over the past few years I have developed the most intense, crazy, and unwarranted fear of those winged metal beasts.  I think it originated with the first plane ride I took without Will.  Being away from my baby was just too much for me to handle.  What if the landing gear fails? Or the cabin becomes depressurized? Or the tail breaks off? Or...or...what if we fly over some weird time warp, disappearing island thing and we go to this scary purgatory, limbo place where we're dead but we all think we're still alive and there's some smoke monster trying to get us?  What if?!?!?!?!?!?  Hold on...let me calm down.  I'm getting a little worked up here just thinking about it.  ***************Dramatic pause**************  Ah, there.

So I was saying, or had I gotten there yet?  Anyway, a few months ago my paternal grandpa died and when that sort of thing happens, it kind of makes you stop and reevaluate.  So Gregg and I decided it was time to make a trip out to see my mom's parents in Virginia since we hadn't been there since we first got married nine years ago and the boys had never been.  They so selflessly drive out to see us every year, but we hadn't made the effort to make the trip ourselves.  Yes, it was time.  None of us are getting any younger, right? 

So last week I asked Will if he was getting excited about our upcoming trip to see Nannie and Papa to which he answered with an uninhibited, "YES!!"  Then the real question I was wondering about...the one I needed to answer for myself..."Are you afraid to fly on the airplane?"  He looked at me like I was crazy, "No."  As in, "Duh, mom.  Why would I be afraid of that?"  And he wasn't kidding.  Does this look like the face of someone who's afraid to speed down the runway at 300 miles per hour then do what is completely unnatural for us two-legged, upright-walking folk and actually leave the ground thousands of feet behind?  Judge for yourselves.

He actually looks a little wild-haired and crazy-eyed here, but not afraid. No, not afraid.  Almost the whole time we were in the air he was talking about how cool it was to be up there above the clouds.  In fact, on one of our last flights (we rode a total of five planes...stupid small airports that don't fly anywhere useful) we had quite a bit of turbulence.  Gregg assured me it was normal but I knew he was just trying to console me before we plummeted to our horrible death.  As we're being tossed (I swear I'm not being dramatic...much) by the winds and air currents or whatever it is that causes the "unexpected rough air," I'm holding onto the arm rests with the grip of death just praying we would live through this.  All the while Will is sitting next to me, "Woah, woah! We're flying all crazy! This is fun...isn't this fun, mom?"  Me through gritted teeth, "Not so much, buddy.  Not so much."  When we finally landed, he asked, "Are we on the ground again?"  Yes, bud (do you feel the relief?).  "Awwww, maaaaan!!!"  Me on the other hand?  I said a little prayer of thanks.

Now here's a kid that speaks my heart language a little more closely than my first born.  His excitement toward the plane ride went only as far as the idea.  He didn't echo the fear that was seeping from my pores, but his nervousness shone through on our first take off.  As soon as we started speeding toward flight I could hear his little voice from behind me, "Oooo, I'm okay. I'm okaaaaay.  Too sca-wee.  I'm okay."  Yes, Micah.  Keep talking. Convince me too.  And he again spoke my mind today as we landed for the final time on this trip, "Yay! We made it!  It's not too sca-wee!"  Nope, not that we're on the ground now.

As silly as this may sound, this is something I've been struggling with for weeks.  I laid in bed at night struggling to sleep because I was thinking of how I was putting my babies at risk by putting them on an airplane.  I know they say you're safer in the air. Well, whoever "they" is, I sure don't feel safer....especially not when it comes to my boys.  It's the total lack of control.  I'm not driving.  I can't get out.  I have absolutely no way to influence the outcome of this plane ride.  No control.  And that, my friends is really the source of the fear.

I prayed long and hard about this because I know this fear is not of God.  He tells us over and over again in His Word not to fear, yet I couldn't let it go.  I kept justifying it with, "But it's my boys, Lord.  It's not me I'm worried's my boys."  Now without getting into a topic that I am completely unqualified to debate, I believe there is an age (or maybe point is a better word) of accountability.  In the later verses of John 9 Jesus speaks of spiritual blindness after he heals a man's physical blindness.  In verse 41 He says, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains."  Many have suggested that this implies there is a point up to which we will not be held accountable for the sin we are all guilty of.  It seems from this verse that He shows mercy to those that lack understanding with regards to right, wrong, sin, and the hopeless need for Jesus as Savior.  Be careful to use this as an excuse to sin...Jesus knows your heart and an insincere and dishonest "I didn't know" won't work for Him.  I believe children fall into this a certain extent.  Anyone who's been a momma for a while knows there is a point at which even a child knows and can no longer claim to be "blind."  

Anyway, my whole point in going off on this tangent is that I'm not sure how close Will is to this point and I am fearful of him, uh well, dying and being held accountable.  So all this...lack of control, uncertainty of Will's eternal security...all these thoughts clouded my mind and allowed fear to creep in and take over to the point where I felt almost paralyzed by it.  This type of fear, this paralyzing fear renders us completely ineffective to carry out the tasks God has set before us.  In my giving into fear for Will's salvation, I am useless in helping him toward it.  The Bible has given Gregg and I the command to bring Will and Micah up to know God's love, His commands, His know Him.  But me spending all my time worrying about it accomplishes absolutely nothing for Christ and His kingdom.  My worry takes the focus off of Him and His work.  Even Jesus points to the futility of worry of this kind when He said, "Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" (Matt 6:27)  In this same chapter of Matthew Jesus assures us He'll take care of us because of how much He loves us.  This doesn't ensure that we'll live through every plane ride, or car ride, or walk down the street, but it does say to us that He knows what He's doing.  He's got this and whatever happens it will be according to His will and we can trust that it will be what's best for us and more importantly His kingdom because He loves and cares for us.  

So my job is to be obedient to His command to bring my children up in a home that teaches of this love with parents that exemplify His character.  I can't do that gripped by fear so my prayer is for Him to take it away...completely. And while I admit I still let fear take over on bits of that plane ride (I'm sorry, turbulence will never be normal to me), there were multiple times I got the opportunity to talk with Will about the beauty of God's creation that we don't get to see every the sunrise above the clouds on a gloomy day.  It was breath-taking, so much so that even my five year old recognized God's glory in it.  He did that for us so we could in turn give Him the glory that only He deserves.  In the words of Micah Moo, "God made....da woyd." (That's "world," folks.)  Pretty awesome that God gives us these reminders about who He is.  I'm thankful for that today...and for living through the plane ride. :)

Just wanted to note that the idea of Age of Accountability is not something that's spelled out black and white in the Scriptures. There are differing views on this (I shared mine) and I encourage you to dig into the Word if it's something you're curious about.  It's important to point out though, that whichever side of this concept you fall on, it doesn't change the message of the gospel: that Christ died for our sins and we can have everlasting life with Him if we turn from our sin and recognize Him as the only way to salvation.

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