Not that long ago Denise Savage and myself found ourselves unexpectedly on the same flight home to Tasmania after a day of Uniting Church meetings in Melbourne. We were on the last flight and outside the weather was dark and gloomy. When we finally boarded our plane and strapped ourselves in, the first lot of overhead messages began. The usual messages of ensuring all our personal belongings and children were secure came across the intercom. Then we were told because of expected turbulence, no hot drinks would be served on the flight. We knew we were in for a rough flight.
Trust me. The pilot was correct. The drink and food service was abandoned after the plane turned into a washing machine. As the plane shook to the left and to the right and sometimes went up and down, the pilot told us he was trying to find an altitude that gave us less bumps.
When we were flying over Tasmania, I looked out the window to discover we were sandwiched in-between two sets of cloud cover – one above and one blanketing the land. Across the horizon, there was a dark orange glow of the sun going down. The orange glow filled the void between the two sets of clouds. It truly was a majestic view. As I looked at this amazing sight and recognising the turbulence around me, I found myself at odds with myself. Here I was on a plane that was shaking violently while outside the window all I could see was complete peace and splendour. How could I be experiencing such conflicting feelings at the same time?
In one sense, because I am not always good with flying, I just wanted the turbulence to stop and to be on land again. But on the other hand, I wanted to linger in the view of the sunset and enjoy the warmth it gave. How could I be at peace and be in conflict at the same time? When all of this was happening, I knew that God was gently prodding me in saying that God is always with me in every situation. That when life gets a bit bumpy or rough, it does not mean that God is not with us. Sometimes we just need to find perspective and see God in our situation. And in doing so, perhaps the bumps are not as bad as they seem, and if they are, we are not in the bumps alone.
May we all be able to find the sunset in turbulent times, knowing that at some point the plane will land and circumstances will again become calm.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” John 14:27