My children and I are taking a few days away just prior to the Southern Baptist Convention. We flew from Mobile to Memphis and then on to Indianapolis. Our flight took off from Memphis on time. Ten minutes into the flight there was a loud noise beneath us, the sound of the plane’s landing gear lumbering down. Kayla and I were sitting together; the boys, Josh and Tyler, were behind us a few rows back. Kayla was asleep. I turned to see if the boys were worried. They were but I motioned to Josh a thumbs up. I was concerned. I began praying. As I checked my emotions I felt a strange peace. Strange in the sense that I was not afraid of dying. In times past I have been terrified by much smaller events in mid air. I was concerned for my kids, especially Kayla, who has been traumatized by the car accident with Tammy just over nine months ago.
We later discovered that the front landing gear didn’t go up on take off. The pilot did a masterful job calming the passengers and getting back to Memphis. Our plane circled in a fly by the control tower to make certain that all the gear was down, then attempted a landing. At the end of the runway I could see fire fighters and equipment standing ready. Thankfully the landing gear was in working condition and we landed safely.
That was a little more drama that I was expecting today. And it reminds me that "my time" may come at any time. We don't have guarantees of a long life, but we do have a guarantee of life. As I prayed I sensed confidence in the Lord as my shepherd. If this was it, then this was it, and I know my family is ready to go. Yet I wanted to live on. This is the dilemma Paul addresses in Philippians 1:21-23: "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far."
Death doesn’t hold the terrors it once did for me. I’m grateful for that. I was shaken, but it was more for my children and how to help them navigate this very real part of living. As Hebrews 2:14-15 says, “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” I am proud of my kids. After a brief stay back in Memphis, we loaded ourselves onto another flight and continued on to Indianapolis.