So, I graduated from high school in ’72. Go ahead and do the math and settle back down as that’s not the point of this blog. A few days later, my Mom hitched the camper (they weren’t called RVs then) behind the station wagon (we didn’t have mini vans/SUVs/crossovers) and fell in line with the YMCA Caravan Camping Club heading North toward DC, Baltimore, Lancaster and Gettysburg. Smack in the middle of the 10 days, a dear friend was getting married and I was a bridesmaid. This is a friend that I’d shared every single school year with from 1st grade on…we didn’t have kindergarten then either. Mom, the master of best of both worlds, arranged for me to fly back for the wedding while she and my sister completed the trip.
My flight departed from a small, regional airport in Lancaster and headed for DC. Between DC and Greensboro, we crossed a line of heavy summer storms wrought with fierce lightening and plane jarring thunder. A stewardess (flight attendant, come on, you know the drill) was injured, the captain fell silent, and tears streamed down my cheeks. To say that it was frightening is an understatement. Simply put, I refused to climb aboard a plane for the next 25 years.
In 2000, I was asked to speak at a Women’s conference in…Moscow, Russia. You’ll have to take my word for it, but I actually inquired as to whether one might find alternate transportation between the US and Russia. However, completely convinced that this really was a God request, I pressed forward as Joyce Meyer would say…’afraid? Do it afraid’. Trust me, I was afraid.
But God. There are some connections in life that you know, that you know, are God’s connections for you. Such was our friend, Teen. I don’t know of anything this man can’t do and do well, including fly a plane. So, in preparation for my impending doom, he met me at our local air field and painstakingly taught me about lift, thrust, drag, slats, flaps and angle of attack…then he talked me right into the seat, handed me a brown paper bag and we were airborne…eventually I ‘flew’ the plane out across the inland and coastal wetlands. I can honestly say that for a few moments, at least, I could breathe normally and take in the awe-inspiring grandeur spread before me. And, I did go to Moscow, AND Perm, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Greece, St Maarten, St Thomas, Grand Cayman, Puerto Rico and more than a few state side destinations. And I’m headed to Africa this fall!
I’m grateful for the opportunities, the friends that shared my journeys, and the friend that literally taught me to soar above my fears. To quote Dr Gary Smalley, ‘Life is about relationships, the rest is just details’. And relationships are exactly why we consider Life Groups such an important part of life here at Open Door. As our average attendance continues to climb, opportunities to authentically connect with people become slimmer and slimmer. Life Groups afford us time set aside to actually connect, converse and experience the presence of other persons.
But they also give us another important gift…any seasoned pilot knows not to fly through a storm, over the mountains or at night in a single engine plane; you want at least two in those circumstances. Most of us know that life often forces us into storms, over mountains and through the darkest of night. If my only connection to the Body of Christ is Sunday mornings…then I’m approaching life in a single engine plane. But there’s a second engine available to us at Open Door…our Life Groups. I found those connections to be a gift that keeps on giving…LIFE!
Co-Pastor & Life Groups Director