Proverbs 14:26 "He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge."
"Frank! Frank!" my Mom screamed! When my normally quiet mother broke out of her calm, controlled self, fear gripping her heart... my eyes stared gaping wide into my sister's. Our jaws simultaneously dropped open. The sudden realization that my family and I might not be alive much longer was wordlessly communicated in that glance.
Just then, our four-passenger Cessna aircraft entered some clouds near the Marion Airport where we were to land. On our flight from Dayton, Ohio to Indiana we enjoyed fair skies so far and no bad weather showed up in the forecast when the flight plan was filed.
But now, our visibility had changed. Dad was puzzled. He was about to begin our approach for the landing strip, when unfriendly clouds enveloped us. Immediately the wind tossed our plane. Down drafts and updrafts unnerved us all.
When Mom yelled, she had seen a hole in the clouds and could tell that we were diving toward the ground. Dad, a VFR pilot (visual frequency rating), had both eyes glued to the instrument panel.
I clenched my hands and began breathing a prayer for our safety. I asked for dad to know what to do next. Suddenly, I was aware that my priorities in life were way off. My thoughts raced. I asked forgiveness and for God to take over the plane, my life, and my future. Now, I felt ready for anything.
In a matter of seconds, our rapid descent halted and we shot up like a careening car racing along a roller coaster. Higher and higher we climbed... this was the second time the wind yo-yoed us up.
Wisely, Dad said, "We're going south to land in Indianapolis. We'll rent a car and drive home from there."
Grim-faced, we peered out the windows. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, we soared into a clear night sky sprinkled with starlight. My heart beat loudly. I breathed a sigh of relief.
I know angelic beings transported us to safety that night. In that harrowing experience, my shallow self-concern and independence was exposed... man, I was so full of myself. Before now, I was caught up in my new found freedoms and intellectual exercises that made me feel superior to my simple faith in God. But, I rediscovered the emptiness of my self-sufficiency.
The next day, I returned to work a little before noon at Crossroads restaurant. As I entered the kitchen, a girl who lived up on the hill near the airport excitedly told my boss this story.
"Last night, my family heard a plane diving right over our house!" she grabbed Millie's arm, "We ran out the front door to get a better look and there was this airplane only about a hundred feet from our house! We screamed our heads off and then suddenly, it just disappeared up in the clouds."
She began to shriek. "We were that close to being killed!"
Howard gaped at her while the frying breaded tenderloins sizzled. Millie's brow wrinkled in disbelief. The dishwasher stood staring, a plate held still in mid-air.
Tucking my order pad and pen into my apron pocket before heading out to wait tables I chimed in, "Her story is definitely true, because I am an eye witness. I was on the inside that airplane! Two families were saved last night!"
As I think about that night, I want to pray again, "Lord, open my heart. I need to be guided and filled with more of you, everyday."