Which Way is Up?

I referred last week to the great faith chapter, and how the heroes in the faith never got what they waited for. It says, “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11:39, 40) So the question becomes: Do you want to be healed, or do you want to be made whole? Do you want some of the best this world has to offer in this lifetime, or all the best that God has to offer for all eternity?

John 14:1-4 are my favorite verses in the Bible. In those verses Jesus promises a place in His father’s house for those that believe in Him. He begins that paragraph with the words, “Let not your heart be troubled.” The word here used for heart is “mind” and the word for troubled is “stirred or agitated.” That is one of the things I fight repeatedly, if not continually; the agitation that comes when I don’t know which way is up.

 I will admit that sometimes I remind myself of the duck sitting serenely on the lake while paddling furiously below the surface, and I remind myself, Larry, let not your heart be troubled. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28.

One theme that runs throughout the scriptures is…“Trust Me.” That is our message from God. When I started flying lessons my instructor asked me, “Larry, do you trust me?” Of course I said yes. “But do you trust me enough to believe that there is no situation that you can get this aircraft into that I cannot get it out of?” I had to think on that a minute. I had to trust him enough to believe that he was not going to let anything bad happen.

One of my early flight lessons stretched that trust. It was called something like “unusual attitude recovery.” My instructor had me put my head down, not look out, not look at the instruments. Then he had fun putting the aircraft is some of its more unusual “attitudes.” Just before I reached for the barf bag he said, “Look up, the airplane is yours…take us home.” My inner ears were screaming at me, nothing looked familiar (i.e. the earth and the airplane’s relationship to it). I called it, “Which way is up?” I think the technical term for it is “Spatial Disorientation” and it has ruined a lot of aircraft and the lives of the people in them.

We had talked about what to do in a situation like this, and it went something like this 1) look at the instruments and trust them. 2) level the wings in relation to the horizon, 3) if the earth is spinning around stop that with your feet on the rudder pedals, 4) either add power or reduce power depending on whether you are climbing or diving, and 5) if all else fails, take your hands and feet off the controls. That’s right, just turn it loose and that little trainer aircraft would right itself while you had a minute to recover yourself.

I can’t control all of the situations that come into my life; I can control my reaction to those situations. We might call that Spiritual Disorientation, or “Which way is up?” in a spiritual sense. King Solomon gives advice for these situations, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5) He didn’t say don’t try to understand…just don’t lean on that. Don’t let your world revolve around controlling all that is happening.

For the Josephs…it ain’t over till it’s over. For the Jobs…you don’t know “the rest of the story.” For the Freddys…there is something better waiting. For the trees that are being bent in the wind…this is for your own good. For all of us who are struggling to figure out Why?…there is a difference between want to know why, need to know why, and have to know why. For the “friends of Job” (like Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu)…when you don’t know what to say, don’t say anything. For the Emmaus disciples that are so distraught over God not showing up…stop a minute and look around you, He’s right there. For the whiners wallowing in self-pity…it’s not all about you.For the ones sliding down a wet runway at 60 miles an hour…I sure hope you have kept your prayer life up to date, but even if you haven’t God still hears.

When God doesn’t make sense, hold onto your faith, trust in Him and know that you can trust God to get you home at the end of the day.

I close this series with the words of the apostle Paul; “If in this life only we have hope we are of all men most miserable.” (1 Corinthians 15:19)