This is a story of when I thought I was going to die.
It was August 2004 and we were on our way to Mexico with some family on a plane. I was eleven years old and had enjoyed plane rides up to that point. But flying from Phoenix, AZ to Sinaloa, Mexico in August meant that we would be traveling in the midst of storms. My young self was in for the worst ride of her life.
My brother Eli and I were laughing together and enjoying some soda when all of a sudden the plane just STOPPED in the air. Our soda went flying onto my parents sitting in front of us. The attendants fell to the ground and people screamed. We were stuck in the sky for a few moments when suddenly, it felt like we were on the Tower of Terror ride at Disney California Adventures. We fell once, then stopped again. We weren’t even able to intake another breath when we fell AGAIN. One more fall and the plane started moving forward again. I kid you not, I prayed like I never had during those moments. I thought we were going to die. I remember screaming the name of Jesus while we fell and hearing my family praying out loud. As you can imagine, I practically kissed the floor when we landed.
Mind you, I’ve always been somewhat of a coward. I hated the dark and cringed at the thought of speaking in front of my class. But after this near-death experience, something changed in me. I was having nightmares of planes falling from the sky and watching it all happen, dreading the impending crash. I refused to go on any vacation that involved riding a plane. This fear was alive and real in me. It kept me captive up until this past December 2014 because, lo and behold, I got married. And when you get married, you go on a honeymoon. And when you go on a honeymoon, where do a lot of people like to go? You guessed it. Mexico. We could’ve driven, I suppose, but we were eager to go on our first big vacation together so… we booked plane tickets.
My stomach was in major knots when we purchased them a few months before. My husband is incredibly good at helping me calm down, but I was still so nervous. It had been about 10 years since the incident so I had recovered somewhat, but that fear resurfaced when I got on the actual plane. I stepped in and, because of a mix-up with our tickets, we got first-class tickets. It was exciting but when I saw that we were going to sit in the VERY FRONT OF THE PLANE I got antsy and my palms began to sweat and I almost hyperventilated. But here comes the good news… God used my husband to pray over me and speak words of life to me in the midst of fear’s grip on me. He held my hand as we prayed before we ascended into the clouds, he held it as we flew into the sky, and would look into my eyes and give me kisses when fear hit me again. It was the most incredible flight of my life. I even used the bathroom!
Lesson learned. I let that fear of flying cripple me for ten years and it actually influenced other areas of my life where courage was called for. I lived in a shell of myself during my teenage years. It doesn’t matter what or who you’re afraid of, it affects you completely. But 1 John 4:18 says,
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
Every time I fear, I am not made perfect in love. In other words, I’m trusting in myself and trying to control the situation when it’s God’s perfect love that sets us free and gives us the courage to do what He calls us to do. I firmly believe God’s love manifested through my husband on our honeymoon flight to Mexico. Satan might have tried to stop me from spreading my wings and flying into the destiny God has for me, but God ALWAYS has the final word. If you’re struggling with fear, I encourage you today to surrender it to the Lord. His perfect love will drive it out!