Precious Cargo

I love airplanes. I’m old enough to remember when flying was fun and a bit of a luxury.  You dressed up in your best clothes and were treated to real food and drinks.  You were pampered and looked after.  There were usually plenty of empty seats in the cabin and you could enjoy your flight in peace and quiet.  Nowadays?  Well, you know what flying is like today.  But there’s still something almost miraculous about seeing a jumbo jet rumble down the runway gaining speed.  At what seems like the last moment, the nose lifts up and floats skyward, leaving the earth behind.  Driving near the airport this morning I saw a jet gaining altitude and flashing white and silver in the sun.  And I thought about who might be on board..

A businessman, of course.  Flying to a meeting with a potential customer.  He likes his job but hates the time he misses at home with his wife and children.  They’re growing up fast and he’s not there for enough ballgames and birthdays.  His wife resents the time he spends on the road.  He wishes it didn’t have to be this way.  But he has to travel to make enough money to keep the family going in the way they like.  He looks at his watch and feels the pressure of his career and his family weighing inside him.  Please God, he prays, help me close this deal.

There’s a woman in her twenties with a six-month-old baby in her lap.  She’s nervous and worried.  This is her first flight.  But she’s even more worried about her baby.  She hasn’t been gaining weight and she cries a lot.  Her doctor is sending her to see a specialist.  What’s wrong with her little girl?  She pulls the baby close and kisses the top of her head, closing her eyes to the tears she feels stinging inside.  Please God, she prays, please make her be all right.

The pain in the older woman’s back makes it uncomfortable to sit very long.  She’s anxiously looking at the seat belt sign, hoping it will go dark soon and she’ll be able to get up and walk around.  That helps the pain.  When she gets home, she’ll get back in her routine and will walk every morning on the beach with Gus.  Thinking of her big old Rottweiler makes her smile, despite the pain.  Her son had given Gus to her when he’d had to go away.  That’s where she’s been on this trip, seeing him.  He has so many problems and she feels mostly useless to help him.  But he likes her visits and so she goes.  God help my son, she prays.

In every seat, on every flight, in every plane each day, there’s a person made in the image and likeness of God.  Each one has a rich and complicated story.  Everyone struggles with problems and with pain.  Each one of us is so very much more than we appear to be on the outside.  The businessman who’d rather be at home.  The young mother struggling to find a cure for her sick child.  The retiree returning home from a visit to see her son in prison.  We live in a broken and hurting world.  Adam’s sin has left us all wounded.  We carry scars inside us.  Every soul is a tender mystery of love and need.  Every one of us is a broken heart in need of Christ’s redemption, mercy, and love.  So when you look up into the blue sky of spring and see the silver flash of a jet headed from somewhere to somewhere else—say a prayer for the souls onboard.  You don’t know who they are, but God knows each one of them, You don’t know what their problems or needs are, but God surely does.  Some of them are His good friends, while some of them don’t yet know Him.  In both cases, they are His beloved children.  Ask the Lord to keep them safe on their journey.  Beg Him mercy for their sins and healing for their sorrows and pains.  You might be the only person praying for someone on that plane and your prayer could make all the difference in their lives.  As Christians, we’re family and we’re called to care for one another.  When we pray for our brother or sister, we affirm our family ties and we show our love, as He has asked us to love (John 13:33-34).  When we pray, our love and our prayers are pleasing to God.

“O Spirit, Whom the Father sent

To spread abroad the firmament;

O Wind of heaven, by Thy might

Save all who dare the eagle’s flight.

And keep them by Thy watchful care

From every peril in the air.

—“Eternal Father, Strong to Save”—1940 US Episcopal Church version

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