We all felt it. This wasn’t rapid descent. It was free fall.
Comparable to the immediate feeling in our stomachs normally reserved for roller coasters. American’s 747 performing more like paperweight than flying machine. The sensation continued. Too long. Seconds passed. The plane losing altitude. Falling through the sky. No announcement. No reassuring voice over the intercom. It felt as if gravity refuted the rules of flight. Reached an angry fist in the sky and clasped our jet. Hauling us towards earth.
I had exchanged zero words with the man to my right. Laptop on my tray, I had worked the entire flight. Someone on the plane screamed in terror. Didn’t stop. Her wail echoing throughout the fuselage. People began praying aloud. The man next to me reached across my lap, grabbed the strap to my seat belt and yanked tight.
He placed his hand over my hand gripping the arm rest, looked calmly into my eyes and said, “Ma’am, I am one of the pilots. I’m flying to work. This is an air pocket. It happens. We will be ok. But, you need to be strapped in tighter.” He kept hold of my hand while the petrified woman screamed. He didn’t let go, until the plane caught what it felt like was heavy air and we stopped dropping.
As the plane settled back on course, our pilot came on the intercom and explained what happened with the air pocket. Just like my new friend had said. We could read the looks of relief on the terrified faces all around us. Someone started to clap and most of the passengers joined in. Ladies and children were in tears.
I realized that my fear had subsided. While we were plummeting, as the pilot held my hand, I ceased being afraid. His eyes and firm grip certified. This was predictable. This was controllable. We would survive.
In his presence, through his grace to me, a stranger, my fear was gone even in the middle of the freefall.
How much more so our God?
There are 30+ verses in the Bible stating something like Do not fear. Do not be afraid. Easier said than done. Until we do. And we realize, even in the darkest storm our soul knows no fear. For when we are clasped in the hands of the Pilot, we are home.
Isaiah 41:13 (NIV)
13 For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.