“Have you ever flown standby?” What does this have to do with anything? I wondered to myself. I was at a local coffee shop with my new friend Christiana having a casual conversation about the different ways we’d experience God.
“Girl, are you crazy no! That’s too stressful for me. I need to know that I have a seat on the plane.”
“Well that’s what I’m saying!” she cheered, “I always fly standby and I’ve never not gotten where I needed to go.”
“Really?” I said.
“Yea, it’s like a test of faith for me every time I do it. It helps me to learn to trust that God has everything under control.”
Christiana continued her story, telling me the countless times during her traveling when God would show up and put her exactly on the planes she needed to be at the right times. At the end of listening to her testimonies, I was left with my mouth wide open. I believed every word she said, but yet all I could muster out was,
“I don’t think I can do that?”
But days later I was left pondering, “what’s stopping me?”
What was truly stopping me from taking a standby flight if God called me to?
I was reminded of my first and so far only standby flight experience which happened during my first year working in Japan. I and about 9 of my coworkers took a trip to Sapporo, a city in the northern prefecture of Japan to attend the annual snow festival there. Everything went according to plan until it was time to return home and a snowstorm canceled almost every flight out of the city.
This was absolutely horrible for us as teachers who needed to be back immediately to sing English songs to our kids the next morning.
After some pleading and a significant amount of time waiting in lines, we were able to be put on the standby list.
But after about three hours of waiting I and six others gave up and decided to just stay at a hotel overnight.
“What’s the point?” we all concluded.
At that time if we were to get put on a plane we would still be so tired the next day that we would probably call out anyway. Furthermore, the chances of all 10 of us making it on the plane were slim to none, and if only one of us couldn’t make it back our boss would surely be livid.
So we headed to our nearby hotel, grabbed some fast food, and just spent the rest of the day counting our losses.
A few hours after we settled into our hotel we got a message from the three brave ones who stuck it out at the airport saying that they all got a seat on an available plane.
Good for them, we thought, but we still didn’t believe that it was worth the wait.
I compared my experience to one of the ones that my friend had told me. On one trip she was trying to get on the same plane as her mother, and up until the last minute it looked like she would just have to catch a separate flight.
But soon she heard her name followed behind the words, “Calling standby passenger…” and as she went up to claim her seat the flight attendant shared with her that for some reason ten people did not show up for their flight that day.
As I compared our similar experiences I noticed that for Christiana she fully believed that God’s plans are worth the wait, whereas I have struggled at times to believe this.
I tend to have the mindset that if I don’t know the outcome of a situation, then surely the outcome will be bad. Especially when it comes to flights, I fear what would happen if I lost my luggage, or if I’m not sitting in the seat that I desire, or if I’m late for my connecting flight. And none of these are risks that I have been willing to take.
But the truth of the matter is that God has called us to live a life without fear. And He has assured us that we do not have to be afraid of even simple things like delayed flights because He is with us.
We have all been called to live a life on standby: a life in which we carry God’s luggage, follow God’s itinerary and wait on God’s time. Our timing could be ideal, but God’s timing is intentional.
It’s no doubt that for many this year’s list of situations from political issues, to the coronavirus pandemic, to natural disasters and fires and more have left many people plagued with that little sleazy hope sucking worm called fear.
Usually, around the time of the new year, many people begin a reflection process which usually ends with creating some New Year resolutions and goals in hopes of becoming a better version of themselves than they were the previous year.
However, the events of 2020 have sung a bitter tune that sings, “stop trying,” and it has harden the hearts of many.
There aren’t very many people who are looking forward to making any new plans for 2021.
There are many saying to themselves, “What’s the point?”
This is a very good question to ask. What is the point of making new plans or continuing to actively pursue the ones you already have?
Well, the truth might surprise you: there is no point!
There is absolutely no point in making plans…if they are your own!
“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ —yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” – James 4:13
All our plans, no matter how seemingly important or irrelevant should always be established by the Lord.
A plan created without the guidance of God is a hopeless plan.
Even our own plans, no matter how good-intentioned we think we are being for ourselves, will never be as good as God’s best for us.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11
I’ve realized that thing that scares me about standby flights is the fear of the unknown and the fear of relinquishing control.
I often think to myself that I am the only person who is trustworthy in my life and that no one will love me better than I do.
But God says in Jeremiah that His plans for me are not for evil. And in other verses, He declares that His thoughts and ways are actually higher than my own.
He has nor ever will be set to see my downfall. He is always intending to put me on a plane that will take me where He wants me to go. And the best part is that He is fully capable of getting me on the plane I need to be on, at the right time, and with all the luggage I need.
Godly plans require God’s power.
And this is not a power I can get by following my own understanding.
God never tells us His purpose for our life and then says, “now figure it out on your own.”
Instead, He has given us His very Holy Spirit to teach us, guide us, and empower us.
And it is this same spirit that allows us to live life without fear.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” – 2 Timothy 1:7
The Holy Spirit is actively living inside of us, reminding us not of our physical weaknesses but of our royal position! Through the Holy Spirit’s testimony to us that we are children of God he is actually encouraging us to trust God!
“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” – Romans 8:15-16
We can live life on standby when we are fully aware that we are God’s children. And as God’s children, He will never leave us nor forsake us and all His thoughts towards us are good.
In this confidence that we are royal princes and princesses, we can boldly throw out our plans and burn every thought and plan that we’ve had for our life for the year 2020, 2021 or 2059 and take on God’s ideas, itinerary, and schedule!
“The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give you light, but the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.” – Isaiah 60:19
One of the purposes for God creating the sun and moon were to be signs for us to know His plans. In this way the sun and moon are also symbols of God’s presence as well as His guidance.
For years the sun and moon and even stars were used as a GPS. People would look up to know which way they were to go.
But in this Isaiah 60:19 passage God declares that He will be our everlasting GPS! He will be the one to guide us and to lead us in whichever way we need to go.
He has already shown that He can do that time and time again as can be read in the Scriptures. One main example is how He led the Israelites through the wilderness by establishing a pillar of cloud in the day and a pillar of fire at night.
God not only guided the Israelites with these pillars but He also protected them from the harsh sun in the day through the cloud, and through the fire He gave them warmth at night.
He knew exactly what they needed!
And He knows exactly what we need too. This is why He is the Shepherd and we are the sheep. We are designed to go wherever He goes!
If 2020 taught us one thing, it shouldn’t be to give up, but rather to give into God, because surely we will never really know the full extent of the darkness that can come to pass while living here in this world.
On our own we do not have much foresight, but with God, our Shepherd we can always be prepared and never shaken when unexpected situations arise.
And we must remain unshaken!
Especially during times of deep darkness that the entire world is experiencing, because we are called to be lights in this world! We are called to be powerful ambassadors of the very peace bringing life that we have been saved by through Jesus Christ.
We have never been called to react as the world reacts; instead, we have been called to be set apart and to shine, just as a lighthouse shines to sailors distressed at sea.
We are called to burn, being on fire with the life raising power of the Holy Spirit that rose Christ from the dead, giving warmth to all those around us.
But how can we be lights in this world if we are depending on the systems and successes of the very world that needs help?
We can not.
So therefore it is important to take the lessons of 2020 and do the very thing that the prophet Samuel has said: Fear God and keep His commandments (Ecc.12:13).
We should plan our lives and our years based on God’s word only. Not based on our understanding of the current state of the world.
Don’t follow trends and statistics because as 2020 has shown those can change at any point in time. Instead trust only in God with all your heart, mind, and soul.
Purpose in your heart this year to trust God. Take confidence in the fact that you have been bought for a price, and have been adopted by God Himself. And live life as His child, being led by His Spirit!
Let God be the director of every aspect of your life this year and the ones to come.
Do this by always rejoicing in hope, being patient in tribulation, and constant in prayer (Romans 12:12).
Put more focus on God-seeking, than goal planning, and you will hear God’s guiding voice into all that you are suppose to do this year, next year, and the years to come.
In 2021 go where the Lord is going! Live your life on standby, and when He-and only He- calls your name be ready to shout, “Here I am, Lord!”
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.” – Proverbs 3:5
The circumstances of this world do not negate Jeremiah 24:11. They do not negate His plans for you and His thoughts about you. The troubles of life do not mean that “it’s not possible for you.” The world’s issues do not stop God. God’s not taking a time off from 2021. God is not shaken by the world, so neither should you. Be shaken by His word not this world.
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