Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Lofty View

Who has watched an eagle in flight against a blue cloudless sky and not wished that they could float so effortlessly above the earth?
Man’s inherent desire to fly has been expressed in so many ways – not just in attempts (that go back as far as 2200 B.C) to make his own wings but also metaphorically in art , poetry and legends. It has, as well, found expression in our every day language. If we are excited about something , we say we are flying high, if we are unrealistic we are said to have our heads in the clouds, if we grasp at something unattainable we call it pie in the sky, if we dare to dream dreams we call it reaching for the stars.
While many of our modern inventions appeared on our retail shelves before we knew we needed them, the desire to fly was probably there since the time of Adam and yet that desire was not realized until our own recent history with man’s first powered aircraft in 1902 by Richard Pearse.

I am not a world traveler and have only flown twice in my life… so I would say that my feet are fairly firmly planted on the ground and yet the desire to fly like a bird is one of my secret longings.

My brother, James, recently earned his pilot’s license and bought his own little Beechcraft Musketeer airplane. It took him awhile to persuade me to fly with him – not because I did not trust his piloting ability but rather because I was not sure whether I could trust him not to make me sick with spins and dives! He finally convinced me he would behave and so one beautiful, sunny August day I went flying with him. Sitting beside the pilot in a small plane gave me much more a sense of flying like a bird than a larger plane ever could. We lost sense of time and had a wonderful flight, landing safely to find my worried husband who was sure we had crashed somewhere!

Considering that the desire to fly seems to be a universal and ancient desire, I wonder if perhaps it is not a God-given desire. God’s angels have wings and fly so there is evidence that it is a heavenly activity.
In thinking about my flying experience , and knowing that God loves to teach us spiritual truths through the physical things we understand , I thought of several things that flying taught me.

Flying is the only thing that even partially releases man from the grasp of earth’s gravity.
I remember one line of a song we sang in church when I was a child, “Von die Erde reiss mich los”. ( from the earth tear me away) Did God give us the desire to fly to encourage us to look to His heavenly kingdom rather than our earthly one?
Only when we fly can we experience a sense of ‘disconnect’ as we look down on the earth. Much as we love the world we live in and the life we have here, we know that there must be something better to come and we long to be free from the things that bind us, hinder us, and cause us to stumble. We desire to fly away from sorrow and pain and the horror of evil. We yearn to be free where we can soar in the presence of God forever!

Flying makes me feel physically closer to God . The language in scripture gives us to understand that God’s throne is in the heavens as David declares in Ps. 123:1, “Unto Thee lift I up mine eyes – O Thou that dwellest in the heavens !” The pull of the earth broken, I can float among the soft , billowy clouds and identify with a sense of being ‘seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus’. (Eph 2:6)
When God promised never again to destroy the earth by water he sealed his promise with a rainbow in the sky. When Jesus left this earth He disappeared into the clouds and we are told to ‘look up’ and watch for Him to reappear. (Luke 21:28)
God draws us upward as a physical reminder to seek Him above all else.

Flying high above the earth gave me a new world view. Gone were the familiar landmarks by which we find our earthly bearings. They disappeared into a mosaic of field and stream and mountain tops with ribbons of connecting roads.
In the same way we are called to superimpose over our carnal view of the world, a spiritual view from God’s perspective, renewing our minds to see through His eyes , to discern what is important in His kingdom and what is not. Flying in the clouds gives us the emotional feel of what it means to be ‘in the world but not of the world’ (John 17:15,16) - living our life on earth but remembering that we are but temporary travelers , on our way home – we are ‘citizens of a heavenly kingdom’. ( Phil. 3:20)

I loved looking down from lofty heights and seeing everything in miniature. I saw how small and insignificant the things of the world really are - the things that would threaten or frighten me were far below and too tiny to hurt me. Isn’t that God’s view of our world ? The things that loom larger than life, that strike terror into our hearts, that make us worry and fret are so tiny to Him ! How easily He can reach down to make thing right or lift us up into His arms where we are safe..

What was amazing to me looking down from my lofty view was that there was nothing ugly… all the unsightly areas , the run-down parts of town, peoples’ uncared for homes or property, the excavation sites, the garbage dumps, were all magically brushed over to become part of a perfectly ordered landscape , divided into flawless squares of varied hues of color.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we allowed all the irritants and disappointments and frustrations of each day simply to come under God’s brush of ‘all things work together for good’? ( Rom. 8:28) If we could only remember the big picture when we interact with the people that walk through our day, if we could look for the beauty in every moment instead of focusing on the things that offend us, if we could step outside of our own self-centered view and consider God’s view - how unflawed and beautiful our days would be.

I’ll give the last word to John Gillespie Magee, Jr. through his expressive poem……

High Flight !

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.


Lovella said...

very timely today, thank you. I tend to fret and worry and I want everyone I love not to have a moment of concern and yet I need to remember that I only see a little bit of what God sees.

Anonymous said...

Makes me want to go flying!! :-)