Helpless

Our two-week vacation on Sanibel Island in Florida was wonderful—just the break I needed after finishing my latest novel and before starting the research process for the next. I sat in the departure lounge in the Fort Myers Airport with my husband on Saturday, thinking about all of the things I needed to do when I got home, including writing this blog. The inbound flight arrived, but we were told there would be a delay before we could board due to a mechanical issue. One hour stretched into two. I tried not to grow nervous as I watched the mechanics “tinkering” with something on the wing of our plane. And I was greatly relieved when the airline finally announced that we would be moving to a new gate to board a different plane.

At last we lifted off. But an hour into the flight, I happened to glance out the window in time to see our airplane make a giant U-turn in the sky. The flight attendants, who had just begun serving snacks and beverages, abruptly steered their carts back to the galley. Then the announcement came: “Ladies and gentlemen, the pilot has just informed us that we need to make an emergency landing due to a mechanical problem. We should be on the ground in Orlando, Florida in about 30 minutes.”

No one wants to hear news like that when they’re ten-thousand feet above the earth! As panic set in, I realized that I was utterly helpless to control any aspect of my life or my future. All I could do was pray—and of course, I did. Fervently! Everyone else must have been doing the same thing because the plane became eerily quiet. The next thirty minutes seemed like an eternity.

The book I happened to bring along to read on that flight was “Be Still My Soul” by Elisabeth Elliot. Her words took on new meaning as the stricken plane descended. “We have to come to Him in humility, acknowledging our helplessness and our utter dependence on Him. … If we have given our lives to Him, we are able to accept everything that happens to us as from His hands.” We have a savior we can trust, Elliot says. Whatever befalls us, however it befalls us, we must receive it as the will of our all-loving God.

Most days, I go about my life with the illusion that I’m in control. I can decide where and when I’ll go on vacation; which airline I’ll fly with; how my novels will end, and which book topic I’ll write about next. But my helplessness on that airplane reminded me that my ability to control things goes only so far. Ultimately, my life doesn’t belong to me, but to God, who has redeemed it through His Son. If I’ve given my life to Him, then He is in control, not me. And I’m helpless to save myself spiritually, as well. If we crashed and my life ended, none of my “good deeds” would have any merit at all. “Nothing in my hands I bring; simply to the cross I cling.”

Of course, we landed safely or you wouldn’t be reading this blog. We got off the broken plane and were loaded onto a third aircraft an hour later. I confess that my knees felt very wobbly as I boarded. The sick, churning feeling in my stomach grew worse. “The third time’s the charm,” our flight attendant said cheerfully as we took our seats. Once again, I would be vulnerable and helpless, thousands of feet above the earth, for another two-and-a-half hours. And yet, in a strange way, I’m grateful for the reminder of God’s power and my own helplessness. The new year is certain to bring many changes and challenges that I can do nothing about. There will be many more times when I’ll feel panicked and afraid and helpless. But as Elisabeth Elliot says, we do have control over one thing: “You can choose to trust His faithfulness in every detail of your life.”

“When I am afraid, I will trust in You” (Psalm 56:3)

11 comments

  1. Thanks for the reminder! With big changes looming in the future for us, it’s good to remember that our faithful God has everything in control!

  2. Once again, Lynn, you have ministered so deeply to my spirit today. I cannot tell you how many times I have read your blog posts only to realize it was JUST what I needed at that time in my life. What a good God we serve! Thank you for being a vessel He can use to remind us of these beautiful truths. “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus….” His hands are so capable – why don’t I trust them more often to handle my situations? “Oh for grace to trust Him more!” Have a blessed day, Lynn!

  3. Every day I seem to be seeing shocking behaviors and unbelievable choices that our world views as acceptable. Your words are so true that the cross is our only hope, we are so helpless without our Savior Jesus Christ. Thank you for reminding me that Christ must be our focus!

  4. Grateful you enjoyed a refreshing time with Ken on the beautiful sugar sand of Sanibel. So sorry you were tested on the flight home. You passed the test.
    Life is so fragile. Whether it’s cancer that has taken the life of a family member who was a gospel singer and worship leader with 4 children under 8. Or has appeared in another member for the third time. A beautiful mom who leads Bible studies and does an inspirational blog devotional on Facebook. We are waiting for Clair’s sister who is 85 and on hospice to be taken by the Lord. We are waiting for a granddaughter to deliver their baby who was due to be born last Monday. A husband who has his mind and mouth but needs to be lifted in and out of bed because his muscles are so weak. Tests for us to be reminded that God is in control even when we do not understand.
    So thankful you were spared to challenge us with a trustworthy and faithful God. One whose plans for us are meant to refine us and keep us humble.

  5. I’m happy you could enjoy a little rest and relaxation in my corner of our world, and glad you got home safely. Sanibel Island is a beautiful place – plus the weather was quite cooperative for you. Lynn, I love your books – the stories you’ve shared with your readers and I am always excited to hear you have a new book. My favorite things about your writing? the accuracy of your information and your ability to of make biblical stories come to life! I’ll make a deal with you: You keep writing and I’ll keep reading.

  6. Thank you, Lynn, for sharing your heart in this very real life situation. I’m very thankful for your safety, and for our loving Father who is indeed in control. And for His choosing to use authors such as yourself and Elisabeth Elliot whose knowledge of God personally encourage me.

    Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for al little time, and then vanishes away. For ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. James 4:14-15

    May our gracious God continue to bless your writing. Looking forward to reading your next book.

  7. As someone who has faced many unplanned Big life events that are out of my control I often must practice letting go and trusting God. The sad part is that I still struggle with letting go and I still must choose trust in God in each instance. I wish I would have “arrived” at a never changing trust level in our faithful Lord but at 63, I am still learning.

    Americans are often under the illusion that we have control but it is not real. Only God can control the Body, Kingdoms, Earth, Sea and Air as well as the plans we make.

    I just returned from Sanibel Island 2 weeks ago where the cold weather interferred with my expectations. However, even in the cold the Island offers so much of God’s created beauty that my soul was renewed. I also collected a large number of seashells for some Christmas projects. Sanibel is one of my favorite places.

  8. Loved reading every word. God’s sovereignty is something so quickly forgotten when we’re faced with possible “doom”. (I’m a nervous flyer) I love your vulnerability and honesty. ‘My all time favorite author.’ ❤️

  9. I completely understand your fear about the plane trip. We were in Alaska,stranded, waiting for our airplane to be repaired. I prayed and prayed that God would not allow us to fly if it was dangerous at all, and He provided another airplane for us to board and make the trip safely.
    God hears our thoughts, and prayers. He knows us intimately. We should be aware of His omnipotence, and that He is stronger than any other force in the universe. He created all things, and by Him all things were made, so ALL of it is UNDER His control and power. This is why we should pray about everything, and say, “God willing, I will do this or that”. The bible says that, too. Don’t trust men, but DO trust God, in God we trust. Wise words on our money, and I pray that we all submit to Jesus Christ and His Word. Study the King James bible!

  10. Helmer not only enjoys controlling every aspect of Nora’s life, decide what she wears or what dance she should perform for a party but also her apparent helplessness in this regard.

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