It was only 8:35am, and I had already been deplaned.
(Deplaned? Is that even a real word?)
The rest of the passengers mulled around, all of us recently kicked off the plane because the computers were acting up. Whatever technical issues were occurring inside the huge metal bird parked just outside the wall of windows across from me, the flight crew was obviously not part of the solution.
Two of the flight attendants hurried down the corridor toward Starbucks.
It was thirty-five minutes past when we were supposed to be buzzing off through the Tampa sky like a giant gray pelican with stiff wings toward northern states. I was beginning my three-day weekend get-away with a dear friend in Ohio and was anxious to get the flight over and the visit started.
I swallowed my bread-lump nerves the best I could, tossing the leafed-through People magazine to the table on my left. Out the window, the sun opened the day’s curtains with ribbons of yellow light crisscrossing the airplane I hoped to board – again – to Dayton.
The longer I waited, the more my nerves bunched into knots somewhere between my stomach and my heart, a reminder of my occasional anxiety and the general fear of airplanes and flying that had plagued me for a few years.
In my late teens and through most of my twenties, I loved to fly. Just. Loved. It.
I visited friends and family in Ohio multiple times and flew across the country with Trev in 2000 for our Canadian honeymoon in Banff National Park. We flew to Maine the same month I found out I was expecting our first son in 2003. Flying was a fantastic way to travel – so quick, so effortless compared to the hours-long driving stints I’d been on with family and friends in order to get out of our lengthy, sunshiney peninsula.
Flying was always for me. Until it wasn’t.
September 11th, 2001, and the unwelcome physical transformation that affected my adrenaline after my second pregnancy, splintering away my enjoyment of roller coasters and my ability to deal with heart-pounding situations, left their mark on me.
I glanced at my phone. 8:45 am. Flight attendants still out of sight. I sent another prayer heavenward.
“You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3)
As much as I trusted the engineer’s attention to detail, I also know that humans are fallible and sometimes frenzied in our busy lives – rushed, pressured, trying to please others.
Please make sure the computer problem is fixed, Lord. Really fixed.
Movement caught my eye, just outside the floor-to-ceiling windows a few feet away. A black and orange butterfly, probably a Monarch, rode the morning breeze unbelievably close to the building, in between the enormous airplane and the building. The creature’s delicate wings and flitting flight pattern were so incongruous to the concrete and metal playground around it that I caught my breath.
It must be lost.
Maybe it was a loving Heavenly Father reminding me that He had carefully crafted the butterfly’s intricate wings and knew the ins-and-outs of the airplane’s metal wings outside the window. Knew the person or people taking care of the airplane’s computer issue and the people who built the aircraft. Knew the intimate details of my day to come and the regrets I still shoulder from the past. Knew the dreams buried in my heart and the love carried for those in my life.
God knows. The all-powerful, all-knowing Creator of the universe and designer of the atom knows. Your hurts, your fears, your dreams. None of it is beyond His reach or out of His hands.
Easy, thankful tears pricked my eyes that morning as the butterfly winged along the airport hangar’s roofline, a delicate but sure pronouncement that God had everything under control. From the Boeing to the butterfly, He holds our lives in His hands.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7)