Have you ever prayed for more faith? It seems like such a great idea, yet I never really had tried it until last weekend when we were getting ready to leave for our trip to Disney World. I hate flying and am typically a nervous wreck the days leading up to the flight and even worse the day of. I decided to just give it to God and pray that He'd grant me more faith - faith to trust Him that it'd be alright. But somehow it just wasn't working. I was more anxious than ever. Putting Eli to bed knowing I wouldn't see him in the morning since we were leaving out really early....wow, was it hard. I slept very little the night before leaving, both from being nervous as well as from the storms from Hurricane Ike. And saying goodbye to Anna that morning, since she'd been up since 3am,.... not an easy task at all. I was a wreck and cried a good portion of our way to the airport.
Upon getting there and boarding the plane, I still felt uneasy. Why wasn't it working? Why had God not allowed me to wake up refreshed, with a trusting knowledge that He'd be faithful to me? I just didn't understand.
It seemed as soon as we got off the runway, the turbulence began. I felt my composure slowly beginning to fade away and fear continually flooding my whole being. It persistently got worse as the luggage compartments began creaking and crackling and as I could hear the luggage shifting and banging around within their compartments. The wings on the plane were shaking and my stomach had found a new home in my throat. My heart was racing as if I had just finished a triathlon.
Flying with Hurricane Ike was not my idea of a good plane ride, nor did I find it amusing that God's sense of humor was nowhere near what I considered to be humorous. How could He allow this to happen? I had prayed for faith and safety and I felt anything but safe. Then it hit me. How can I ever trust Him to pull me through anything unless I actually go through it??? He was in fact answering my prayer - just not how I wanted.
The seat belt lights were never turned off and the pilot came on and advised everyone to remain seated, that it was about to get really bad. Really bad? What was what I just went through??! That was it for me. On came the tears. Mark kept asking me what was wrong. How was he such at peace while I was such a wreck? I laid on his chest, crying and praying that it'd all soon be over. But it wasn't. The pilot came on again and said it was too bad in St. Louis to land, that we had to hang out in the air for awhile longer. Awhile longer ended up being 45 minutes longer (mind you, the original flight was only a 45 minute ride to begin with - we doubled the flight time 'hanging out' in the air). The pilot came on a 3rd time and said that it was still too bad to land, that we had enough fuel to hang out awhile longer, if needed we'd land at another airport, refuel, and wait until we could land again in St. Louis. I really didn't care where I landed. I just wanted to land. I wanted out of 40,000 feet in the air.
By this time, I was doubled over in my seat in a panic. Had it not been so loud on the plane, this is what you might have heard. Frantic humming, followed by singing, and me quoting scriptures.
"Hmm, Hmm, Hmm, Hmm, Hmm"
"Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, help me stand
I am tired, I am weak, I am torn
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home.
When my way grows drear
Precious Lord linger near
When my light is almost gone
Hear my cry, hear my call
Hold my hand lest I fall
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home."
"1 where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth."
"Hmm. hmm. hmm. hmm"
"Twas grace that taught, my heart to fear
and grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
the hour I first believed."
Finally, we got the clear to land in St. Louis. It was a terrible landing, rocking back and forth, bouncing around.... As evidence of just how bad the flight was, as soon as we hit the runway the entire planed erupted into applause. I would have joined in had I not still been doubled over uttering under my breath "Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you" and had I not gripped my hands so tight, that I could no longer feel my hands, arms, or my face. It was 10 minutes after we de-boarded the plane before I regained any feeling. I was beyond ready and willing to rent a car and drive the rest of the way to FL. But it wasn't really an option, both because of time restraints and because we already had paid for flights. But amazingly enough, nothing after that (short of actually crashing) could seem bad to me. God pulled me through it and showed me just how much I can really trust Him. He was gracious enough to me to allow our 2nd flight to be a smooth and peaceful flight. I slept the majority of the way.
So, just an advisory caution. If you pray for faith, you had better be willing to accept the trials He gives you to strengthen your faith. I naively thought He'd just grant it to me without me having to endure anything, and it doesn't work like that. It's much like praying for patience. Never do that..... unless you're serious about taking on the tasks He gives you.
One last note about just how bad the flight was. Upon returning home from our trip, we had 2 letters in the mail from Southwest Airlines. One for me, one for Mark. There was a letter apologizing for how bad the flight was and enclosed in each of the envelopes was a $175 voucher for another flight. Alas, something confirmed just how bad it was and that it wasn't just my panicked state of mind.