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Smooth Air

What do your fears reveal about your faith - or lack of? Sandra Byrd shares her faith lesson.


Smooth Air

By Sandra Byrd

People often say that while there is almost nothing they wouldn’t do for their children, there is absolutely nothing they wouldn’t do for their grandchildren. I definitely fall into that camp and only balk at one thing.


This apprehension started when I lived in Denver. The weather there is notorious for thunderstorms in the summer and blizzards in the winter. It’s often bumpy flying to and from Colorado during its many seasons of weather change, especially because the winds coming over the mountains stir up trouble. I didn’t like flying in and out because often the trip, while beautiful, has many uncomfortable moments.

I’ve been blessed that my daughter and her family live next door to me, a circumstance that only God’s good hands could have arranged. But this summer, they are moving to another mountainous state for a year while my son-in-law finishes an internship. So if I want to see them often – and I do – I will have to fly.

As I bought my first round of flight tickets, I tried to make a new pact with God that I wouldn’t complain about the person sitting ahead of me reclining their seat into my lap or the child kicking my seat from behind if only he would keep the air smooth.

I always pray for smooth air when I fly. I don’t really believe we’re going to crash, but turbulence is disturbing and out of my control. I’ve spent up to half an hour on a flight simply asking God, over and over, to make bumpy air smooth.

I want comfort and the reassurance that nothing will harm me or make me fearful. But that reassurance is never going to come this side of heaven. The truth is that discomfort is good for me. The book of James tells us to, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything,” (James 1:2-4).

Bumpy flights are the least of the trials in our lives, in which we experience relational and financial challenges, health concerns, and heartaches. How much of my life is spent praying for “smooth air” rather than for the faith to trust his hand as he refines me and then to see how he will use a more mature me for his good purposes (2 Corinthians 1:4)?

In her book Little Women, Louisa Mae Alcott says, “I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.” Perhaps, too, the storms show us just what the ship is made of and how confident—or not—I am in the Shipbuilder, who is well known for walking on and calming turbulent water. Jesus told a troubled sea, “Peace. Be still.” But he tells us, his children, the same (John 14:1a). We do not need still waters or smooth air to have peace because our peace is not dependent upon favorable circumstances. It’s dependent upon the triumphant Christ, Master of all places and events (Psalm 24:1-2).

I realized that I pray for favorable circumstances quite a bit, flying or not. Instead of praying for the welfare of others, that people would draw near to Christ, that I would be refined, to see the blessings he wrests from difficulties or for any of a thousand causes worthy of intervention, I too often pray for smooth air. I need to change that up.

Now, with several sets of tickets purchased, I made a new pact with God. I’ll get on the plane and spend just one minute praying for smooth air but then twenty-nine more praying for things that will matter, eternally, after I land. I will keep the peace he offers (John 14:26-27) close, no matter the headwinds I face.

Sandra Byrd is the bestselling author of more than fifty books, many of them devotionals, including her newest one, Dwell: 90 Days at Home with God. Sandra’s work has received many awards, nominations, and accolades, including a starred review, PW Pick from Publisher’s Weekly and multiple starred reviews and Best Book selections from Library Journal. As an editor and an in-demand writing coach, Sandra is passionate about helping writers develop their talents and has mentored hundreds of writers at all stages of their writing careers. For testimonials about her editing and book coaching, please visit her coaching site.


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