This is the boldness which we have toward him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he listens to us. And if we know that he listens to us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions which we have asked of him.(1 John 5:14-15 WEB)
I was married before I took my first airline flight. It was quite an experience.Actually both the marriage and first air flight were eye openers. I flew from Florida to Ohio to my best friend’s wedding to be the best man. That first take off was almost more than my heart could take. I was shaking in my seat once my stomach returned to its proper position. When I returned to Florida I landed at a tiny airport with a runway just long enough for the plane to stop inches before the surrounding fence touched the nose of the plane.
In the following decades I flew around the globe more than once. Air travel has become normal, routine and mostly boring. Our children have become seasoned travelers offering assistance to adults who are experiencing their first flights. It is fun to watch a 12 year old offer comfort to a geriatric passenger and explain, with proper hand motions, how to use the life jacket and emergency exits. But they were not always seasoned travelers.
When our son, Evan, was about five we flew from Guam to the United States. By this time airplanes were modernized and displayed a map which constantly updated to show our current location. The little video airplane moved slowly across the screen from island to island struggling to reach the west coast of the US. As we crossed over the middle of the Pacific Ocean Evan watched as the screen showed our plane approaching a dark crooked line spanning from north to south.
“What’s that line Daddy?” he inquired as he pointed to the screen. I shook myself awake from my travel induced coma and looked at the screen. I couldn’t seen anything. Then I remembered to put my glasses back on. Through the dim lighting of the cabin I quickly recognized the International Dateline on the video screen.
“That’s the dateline,” I quietly replied trying not to disturb the other snoring passengers. I assumed the conversation was over and closed my eyes to drift off to a numbed state of boredom.
“What’s that crooked part?” Evan continued ignoring my closed eyelids. I peeked out and had a thought. A thought, somewhere between nana land and reality, is sometimes dangerous.
“Well,” I said, pausing to rub my chin like some wise sage, “that’s where a pilot made a mistake. You see, normally we fly really high and so we fly right over the dateline. If you watch out the window carefully you will see it go by when we fly over.” His brown eyes opened wide in amazement. So, I started to reel in my willing son’s imagination.
“One day a pilot wasn’t paying attention and was flying too low. His wheels suddenly were caught on the line and he dragged it for miles before he pulled lose. That’s why they make the planes fly higher now so the line doesn’t get damaged,” I stated with an air of authority.
Evan looked at me. He looked at the map where our plane was approaching the line. He looked out the window. He looked back at me and said, “Oh!” I smiled, closed my eyes, and once more attempted to get my six foot plus body comfortable in a seat designed for midgets.
For the next hour Evan’s eyes darted between the active flight map and the window. He scrunched up his eyes, peered into the darkness and tried, with all his heart, to catch a glimpse of the dateline. He was captivated by his misguided understanding of reality. As he grew up he eventually learned all about maps and imaginary lines.
I suppose as a father it wasn’t fair to take advantage of my son’s naivete. But, after the first ten hours of travel, in a thirty hour journey, I was glad to keep him quiet for a few minutes.
Fortunately, God is not like me. Regardless of when and why; He is willing to listen to my questions, my requests, my praises, and give me an honest answer. I wonder if Jesus ever used the sad modern art of sarcasm? I doubt it.
I have fun with my children. I’m sure Joseph had fun with Jesus. Creative stories are an integral part of our family. But, when it comes to God there are no stories. I have no wish to keep my children silent or distracted from learning about God and faith. Instead, in love, I try to speak the truth so they can grow up in Christ.
There is no place for creative distraction when sharing God’s truth with others. We must be clear. God loves us. God sent his Son. Jesus died for us. He rose again. There is only one way to heaven and eternity. Enough said!