View From The Ridge

View From The Ridge

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Thunder and turbulence

Every time we experience a trial, the world watches to see the substance of our faith - watches to see if we maintain our love and devotion; watches to see if God will see us through this difficult time. There may often be no better way to minister to others than to simply praise God in the middle of our own trials - no better way to show that God is real than by making Him real in our own life. - Steve Troxel 

Date line:  November 2003

Our Sunday school class has been studying the 12 Apostles.  Two of the lessons were on James and John, described as “The Sons of Thunder”.  During class we discussed what emotions the word “thunder” brought to mind, what kind of personalities James and John might have had.  But what came to my mind were the mighty thunder storms that were encountered on an early Kansas summer night in 1961.

 I was the navigator of a five member crew on a KC-97 tanker that was returning from an air refueling mission down near the Missouri /Arkansas border.  I had picked up on the radar a line of thunder storms between us and our home base in Topeka, Kansas.  It was impossible to fly over them as the tops of many were 30,000 ft and more and the ceiling on a KC-97 was a little over 20,000 ft.  It was a dangerous proposition to fly under them as there were usually turbulent winds and down drafts under these storms and sometimes large hail.  The line was so long it was not feasible to fly around one end or the other.  Our only option, if we wanted to get home that night, was to fly along  the leading edge of the front and find an open space in the storm to fly through to the other side.  We had done this before and it was always a piece of cake.

We made several attempts to turn left in between two thunder heads only to have them merge or close off  in front of us so that we would have to do 180 degree turns and make hasty retreats to safety while enduring turbulent winds and lightning all around us.  As we made another attempt, it again looked on the radar to be clear, and then I could see the area closing off and becoming a solid storm cell on the radar.  I called to the pilot to make a 180 degree turn.  As we rolled out on the new heading, I could see on the radar screen that it had also closed off behind us and we were now in the center of this beast.  The lightning and turbulence increased as I searched the radar screen for any weak areas that we could head for.  I finally told the pilot that we were going to have to fight our way out of this and if we had to do that, we might as well end up on the home side of these storms.  So he did another 180 and we plowed our way through.  It felt like some large hand had a hold of the tail end of that plane and was slamming it on a table.  Stuff in the cabin was flying everywhere.  It was the worst air turbulence I ever experienced.  It was only by the grace of God that the airplane held together.  It gave me a new appreciation for the Air Force mandate that “There is no peace time mission that requires you to fly through a thunder storm”. 

In our lives here on earth, we will – not perhaps, but will – have thunder storms placed directly in our paths.  They may be placed there by God to change our course, or by Satan to harass us, but the choice we will have to make is whether we choose to attack it head on and fight, or go around or between and avoid the conflict. 

Sometimes God closes doors, blocks roads and puts up hurdles to keep us from danger or failure, yet we are so bent on accomplishing our wills that we try and break down the closed doors, plow through the blocked roads and jump the hurdles only to receive exactly what we deserve on the other side – disappointment. 

On any journey in life God will give us choices along the way.  What we do with those choices determines the type of journey we will have.  The journey God has taken me on has not been the fast track to success, was not the smoothest of roads and was certainly not the shortest distance between two places, nor the quickest.  Some of the choices I made resulted in the journey being longer and more difficult than it could have been if I had been more cooperative and submissive to God’s will along the way.  He was going to teach me about Himself and myself whether I wanted to learn or not and it was always up to me how long and how hard the lessons were going to be.  Being the rock head that I was, and can still be on occasion, they were long and hard.  But, the lessons were learned, the road traveled was not the one I would have chosen, yet it was the perfect route for the lessons I needed to learn. 

So, the next time your journey in life is suddenly diverted from the freeway to a gravel side road by a storm, slow down and enjoy the scenery and look for the road signs that might be lessons for you to learn.  Remember that God is in control and you are not there by accident. It may take a little or a lot longer to arrive where you are going, but God will get you there.

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