The seat belt light illuminated, and I could barely hear the pilot’s voice, muddled by the aircraft audio speaker system. He requested that we remain seated and buckle our seatbelts and that we’d experience a little turbulence because he and the co-pilot needed to test the aircraft equipment by performing a few maneuvers. I fastened my seat belt and continued the conversation I was having with a colleague sitting next to me.
We were engrossed in our talk — probably about the conference we’d just attended — when the plane became a roller coaster ride. The aircraft tilted left ninety degrees to fly sideways, but my colleague and I kept talking. I didn’t even look up to see how the “little turbulence” was impacting other passengers. I was so distracted by our conversation that I didn’t even notice how the aircraft was wildly bucking through the sky. After the plane then rolled ninety degrees to the right, the pilot returned to the intercom to let us know that he needed to perform more maneuvers. This time, I heard the panic in his voice.
I paused, looked around, and saw folks clenching their arm rests. I felt fear wafting. I asked my colleague if he was okay and to excuse me while I checked in with God. I prayed out loud and asked God if we were okay. I sat in silence for a few seconds as I felt His confirmation, then turned to my colleague and said, “All is well.” “Are you sure?” he asked. I assured him we had nothing to worry about and then continued our conversation.
We approached the destination airport to see a runway lined with fire engines, ambulances, and news vans. At that point, we learned that our aircraft had been expected to crash land. When we finally landed and the seat belt light dimmed, we applauded. As we stood from our seats, my colleague told me that his impending panic was disrupted by my calm. Suddenly, a voice spoke up from the seat behind us, “I don’t know how you did that. I was about to crap my pants. I admire your faith. I need your faith.” Unbeknownst to me, the man in the row behind us had been observing me throughout our flight. He shared how my actions kept him from freaking out, from feeling hopeless and desperate.
As I deplaned, the pilot emerged from the cockpit looking as though he’d been through hell. I walked towards baggage claim, past a row of news reporters sharing the story about our plane’s anticipated crash landing, which I later saw on a news broadcast. This is when I understood the magnitude of our potential despair. But it didn’t change my experience or how I’d felt. I truly believed that all was well, and I also understood how my knowing — my faith — did not solely serve me; it wasn’t only for me. And my faith wasn’t only for that event. But in that moment, the faith that I practiced everyday touched my colleague and captured the man observing us throughout the flight.
Prior to this experience on the plane, when I thought about ways to share my faith, my imagination narrowed to a framework of telling a story about Jesus, a specific, personal story about the reality of Jesus in my life, or the invitation extended as the great commission to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). In other words, I thought sharing my faith meant sharing a particular narrative about how Jesus was at work in my life or inviting someone to church with me. But a near disaster taught me that people far from or close to Jesus simply need to see His light manifested in and through my life.
We don’t always have time to quote Scripture, but we can be the embodiment of God’s Word. Circumstances don’t always allot us time to talk about our faith, but our actions are the fruit of our daily practice. We don’t have to don religious paraphernalia, but how we live is a reflection of the resurrection.
As we practice our faith, hope-filled words leap from our hearts, inspiration exudes from our souls, and light overwhelms pending darkness around us. Matthew 5:14-16 reads, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
It may not be a near plan crash that gives you the opportunity to shine your light (I hope it isn’t), but I pray that everyone you encounter in your everyday rhythm — commuting, carpooling, grocery shopping — may experience the bright light of your faith.Leave a Comment