Love Always Perseveres on ALL Days
Love always hopes. It can’t help itself. Always, not some ways or some days, but always on all days. I had a personal experience of this very thing on—of all days—September 11, 2001. I was on United Flight 929 heading for Chicago and home. As the pilot began to dump fuel into the Atlantic, rudely waking the unsuspecting passengers in the cabin from a snooze, I looked over at my neighbor. We both raised our eyebrows.
“Now then,” the captain announced over the intercom, “we have a healthy aircraft.”
“Well, that’s good!” I said. But the cabin crew was suddenly far too bush for my liking. What were they doing? If the plane was healthy and the weather fine, why were we dumping fuel, and why were we unmistakably hearing the wheels being lowered?
I looked at my watch. We were approximately three and a half hours out of London’s Heathrow Airport. My husband had seen me off and stayed to minister in Northern Ireland. We had just completed four wonderful weeks of ministry together in Siberia and Russia.
“All airspace and borders have been closed in and out of the United States,” the pilot continued. “We have been informed we have a national emergency on our hands and will be landing in twenty minutes at Gander Airport in Newfoundland. I can’t tell you any more until we are on the ground. Crew, prepare the cabin for landing.”
That was it! My seat companion was a young heart surgeon.
“I hope we aren’t going to need you,” I said.
“So do I,” he replied with emotion.
“So what do you think?” I asked him after a few stunned moments. He shook his head, puzzled.
“Maybe a nuclear reactor?” he suggested.
“Taliban,” I said. Having just been in Russia, the Taliban had featured heavily in the news, and they came readily to mind as we debated what on earth could have caused such drastic measures. We couldn’t figure out, though, why all the air space and borders in the United Stated would have been closed. The Taliban was terrorizing people half a world away.
We, along with thousands of others landing in Gander, Newfoundland (doubling the population), were left wondering and not a little apprehensive! Psalm 139:16 came to mind. “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
Even September 11, 2001, Lord,” I murmured.
All 250 of us on the plane hastily read the emergency landing instructions. Then I experienced two distinct feelings.
First, a settled certainty that there was nowhere else in the whole wide world that I should be at that moment other than that airplane seat, firmly buckled into the ordained will of God for me.
Every day, the Bible says. Every day. “Lord, that includes September 11 as surely as it mean all my yesterdays and all my tomorrows, doesn’t it?”
“Yes,” said that still small voice in my soul. I recognized the whisper of His grace.
Second, I felt a heathy sense of anticipation for whatever was ahead. Of course, none of us in the skies had an inkling of the size and shape of the horrific events that had unfolded in Washington and Manhattan an hour or so after we were airborne.
But God was good to give me 30 minutes before landing to check my theology and make sure it was securely in place before we were informed of the horrible things that had happened.
What did I believe? That God is in control even when I am not?
Yes! That nothing can happen to His children apart from His will? Yes! That God is good—all the time—even when things are bad? Yes! That I and other Jesus lovers and glory givers on that plane had a colossal advantage over those who had no high tower for their souls to run to, no Good Shepherd to calm their beating hearts, hush their fears, and remind them that if the very worst were to happen, the very best was yet to come? Yes!
You see, I had a living hope!
I am reminded as we pause this week to remember all that happened the day that forever changed our world, I am encouraged by my own small experience. God waits with our future in His hands, and it will be all right—whatever happens to us.
Whatever the whatever, and whenever the whenever, God is God enough! Sadder and wiser, may we Americans return to our God and give ourselves with greater urgency to the most important and necessary things in life.
Hope for tomorrow sets us free for life today—even when there is reason for our hearts to fail for fear—if we love God first, others second, and our selfish selves last. For this we need Jesus—our hope!
Jill Briscoe is the Founder and Executive Editor of Just Between Us magazine and ministry.