Flight Plan

The lake behind our house has abundant bird life. White herons, blue herons, egrets, anhingas, wood ducks, mallards, turkey ducks, osprey, Canada geese. They gracefully glide around each other as they paddle around the lake. 
Peaceful. 
Pleasant.
Placid.
Then…

POP! 

A sudden, unexpected noise disturbs the tranquility.
Confusion.
Chaos.
Clambering.

The birds all take flight simultaneously. 
Sky. 
Safety. 
Sanctuary.

This morning I watched this familiar scene play out again. But I had an unexpected emotion. I felt a tinge of envy as I watched the birds so easily fly to safety and escape the POP. Their flight plan worked. Mine won’t.

I usually always have a flight plan. Many of us do. We imagine what we would do and the place to which we would take flight if/when circumstances in our lives get bad enough. Often we choose another location–one in which we believe we would be better off. 
Safer.
Happier. 
Freer. 
Off the grid. 

Even if we don’t really believe we will have to flee, we take comfort in knowing that we can flee, and that we have chosen a place to fly. But then, in an instant…POP! We can’t fly. Literally. Planes are grounded. Borders are closed. Even if in our clambering we could cobble a means of escape, even if we could ferret out a chink in some border, where would we go? Canada? No. Covid-19 is there. Mexico?  No. Covid-19 is there. Europe? No. Covid-19 is there. Asia? No. Covid-19 is there. Australia? No. Covid-19 is there. The Middle East? No. Covid-19 is there. Africa? No. Covid-19 is there. India? No. Covid-19 is there. Australia? No. Covid-19 is there. Where in the world, then, can we go to escape Covid-19? 

It is unsettling and disquieting to realize there is nowhere you can go to escape the POP.

As I sipped my coffee, momentarily
fretful
fearful
feeble feeling
a more important question came to my mind, “Why do I really feel the need to flee?” My answer revealed that there still remains in me some of the illusion/delusion that I am in control. That in some way I can be my own savior. That I am somehow the real protector of my family. That I can somehow create a zone of safety or a safe shelter. This virus has exposed that kind of thinking for the rickety house of cards that it truly is. It collapses at a POP.

As I was watching the birds fly away, the Lord brought Psalm 139 to my mind. I reached for my Bible and began to read these familiar verses:

“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.”

These words are not always comforting, knowing that the Lord has total and complete access to us always. Sometimes we wish He did not when we consider what we often think, say, and do. But now with sickness and death escalating around us, we are immensely comforted by the knowledge that wherever we are the Lord also is. We cannot be
quarantined
inaccessible
isolated
from His presence. Ever! When fear and darkness seem ready to completely overwhelm and smother us, the Lord is with us. Darkness cannot hide or obscure us from God’s gaze. Darkness is like light to Him. He can see our hands, and He does reach down to take hold of them. He won’t let go. Suddenly I’m 7 years old again in Vacation Bible School in my little country church singing, “Safe am I. Safe am I. In the hollow of His hand.”

I don’t like the POP.  I don’t like the way it slithers and spreads smoke-like all over the world. But I don’t need to fear it. It can never find a place to be where God is not. And where God is, it will be well for me! I don’t need to cave in to chaos and confusion. I do not need to continue to clamber. My soul can be as peaceful and placid as the lake. I’m not going to envy the birds. Let them fly away. I’m going to stay grounded with Jesus.

And by the way, I do have a flight plan.