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Flying Home

Earlier this week, I flew home from a conference in Orlando. When I boarded the plane, I started to reach in my backpack - for a book or headphones - something to do on the flight.

But the Spirit stopped me, and I knew I was not supposed to “do”anything. I was supposed to just “be.”

“Okay, Lord.” I whispered. “Okay.” And I put my backpack under the seat in front of me.

Then, I felt Him say, “Watch. I want to show you something.”

The plane sped down the runway as usual, and then it took off. As we ascended over the city, everything below got smaller and smaller. And I understood that’s precisely how it is when we sit with God.

In the spiritual dimension, He lifts us up and gives us a new perspective on life. We start to see how small the things of the world really are compared to the immensity of the Heavens.

The busyness of the city and the hustle of the traffic seemed slower from up there. The towering buildings - that lord over people with commerce - seemed to be but a spec from up there.

From this perspective, I could see clearly that our busyness, material possessions, and money aren’t actually as big a deal as we think. After all, we can’t take them with us in the final ascent to Heaven.

At this point, I was tempted to reach for my backpack again. I thought that’s all God wanted to show me, and I was now free to do what I wanted for the remainder of the flight.

But the Spirit persisted. “Keep watching.” He told me. And so I did.

A few minutes later, we ascended quite literally into the clouds. Everything below disappeared, and a thick fog seemed to swallow the plane. The plane shook in the turbulence. I couldn’t see a thing out my window anymore.

And yet the Spirit said, “Keep watching.” And so I did.

I knew in an instant that this is where I’m currently at in the spiritual journey.

When God calls us higher, we don’t always see MORE, but rather, we see LESS. When God calls us to new levels of faith, things tend to get turbulent and cloudy.

We long for the times before this, though… when we had that crystal-clear, mountain-top view of life. We tend to think we’ve gone backwards somehow. Because we can’t “see” like we used to. But the truth is, we’re not supposed to see. We’re supposed to trust.

“How do we know where we’re going?” a nearby child asked.

“Don’t worry,” a mom answered. “The pilot knows.”

In this phase of our “flight home,” God asks us for greater trust in His ability to navigate our life. But I think there’s even more to it than that.

I think God veils this part of the journey on purpose. I think there are certain battles that take place in the heavens that we’re not meant to see. Only those in the cockpit are privy to them... only the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — and the spiritual “flight attendants,” we call our guardian angels.

Frankly, we couldn’t handle seeing what truly goes on in this stage of the journey. So our job is simply to sit back and trust.

At this point, I was tempted to reach for my backpack again.

But the Spirit said, “Keep watching.” And so I did.

A few moments later, the fog seemed to dissipate and the turbulence stopped. Suddenly we were surrounded by rays of light, and the clouds were now beneath us.

I couldn’t see it at the time, but the pilot had been flying upward through the clouds the whole time. Eventually, he brought us through it.

And so will God.

Eventually, the clouds will dissipate and we’ll see that glory awaits us on the other side. God will show us the unseen things in the highest Heavens — through wisdom, knowledge, and insight from on high. And He will grant us a peace that surpasses all understanding.

That is, if we sit with Him long enough. That is, if we resist the “backpack urge” to do what WE want to do, and trust in what HE wants to show us.

That’s the hard part.

We ascend to Him only to the degree that we surrender to Him.

Read that again.

We ascend to Him only to the degree that we surrender to Him.

Here, I should probably explain to you why I was so eager to grab my headphones and books on the flight. You see, I was in the process of researching something. And I had a podcast queued up and a book started that I hoped would provide some insight, even “answers” to a personal issue I was trying to solve.

But God wanted to teach me something different. He wanted to teach me that He was in control of my journey. Even if I couldn’t see where I was headed.

And, just to prove His point, the good Lord showed me - not one, not two - but THREE rainbows as we flew above those clouds. One from the Father, one from the Son, and one from the Holy Spirit.

It was a sign that my hope is not in medical journals or podcasts with experts. My hope is in the most holy Trinity.

“And God said… ‘I have set my rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.’” (Genesis 9:12-13)

Truth is: I learned more on that flight doing “nothing” than I would have learned immersed in books and podcasts.

I learned that the journey home is an ascent to the heights of heaven, and we simply cannot get there without blindly crossing through turbulent clouds. I also learned it’s in our acceptance of those turbulent clouds that we make the most progress.

In fact, when we resist the turbulence and clouds — when we want to go back to “seeing” everything around us from that mountain top view — we unintentionally drop back down under the clouds. We get further away from the heights of Heaven, not closer.

Which is exactly what I’ve been doing lately. I’ve been wanting to see instead of trusting in the unseen. I’ve been wanting control instead of surrendering.

Not surprisingly, I haven’t made much progress lately. But I think that’s about to change.

So, this is me declaring to you all that I surrender. I know I’m just a passenger flying home. And I trust almighty God is going to get me there safely.

Hopefully in a year from now, when this shows up in my memories, I won’t have dropped back down under the clouds. Hopefully I’ll be a little closer to “home” than I am today.

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