By Elisa Morgan
My husband and I had been talking about taking a trip. The kind where you fly over a LARGE body of water. Not for work nor for ministry but rather for fun.
We talked about the idea one Saturday morning before I left on some errands and when I returned, he’d booked the flight using our free air miles. You’d have thought I’d have been grateful. After all, he took the initiative, sat on the phone with electronic India and even got me an aisle seat.
But nope. Know what my first reaction was? Fear. Honest. I noticed this weird knot forming in my gut as I screwed my face into a “Let’s pretend I’m a really grateful wife thinking you’re an awesome husband” impersonation.
Why fear? I pushed past the “I’m leaving the continent where my kids live.” They are in their mid-twenties. It wasn’t that. Next came the dogs. Mercy…They would be fine. Then I hit the “Will email work there?” Of course it will - it’s not like I was going to the top of
What was the matter with me? So what was I afraid of?
Scratching just below the surface I discovered the obvious all-too-familiar answer: lack of control. Flying over a body of water – not just land – but a GIANT body of water with nowhere to land, brings up control issues for me. And just after the control issues appear, next comes a messy and undeniable fear. It’s not that I’m some kind of control junkie. I’ve WAY recovered from that addiction. It’s just that I have a hard time entering unfamiliar zones – especially for fun. (You see, when I’m leading, I’m in control so that’s much easier. It’s when I’m not in control that the fun begins. Do you like that play on words?)
About this time I was reading in Luke 8, the story of Jesus casting demons out of a man and into a herd of pigs. (By the way - why is it that the Word of God can be so well-timed when you’re not looking for it and then pretty much silent when you’re begging God to speak?) So the people are all amazed at Jesus and how he healed the man, when - WHAM! A line in 8:37 slammed into my thinking, “Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.”
They were impressed with the miracle and the healing but they were also freaked out that Jesus was sending their livelihood (the herd of pigs) off a cliff. Good stuff was happening – but at what price? A price they didn’t want to pay. They were overcome with fear and their reaction was to ask Jesus to leave.
Fear pushes Jesus away. My fear pushes Jesus away.
I take in what’s going on around me - sometimes not so good, sometimes quite lovely – and queasy-stomached with fear, I push Jesus away. I ask him to leave, to get into the boat without me.
Boat. Plane. Whatever. Each is a vehicle that moves us from one place to another. From familiar to unfamiliar. From known to unknown. We can go with or without Jesus.
Today I’m planning my trip. And I’m asking myself quite honestly: what really makes me the most afraid? Venturing into the unknown sky grasping my pretend joy stick of control or flying off into the wild blue yonder in one direction while “sending Jesus off” in another one?