I never took higher science classes. Biology II in high school, but that was because the end of the year project was a bug collection. I like bugs.

Oh, and I took Geology in college, but that's because I like rocks. Bugs and rocks ... every 8 year-old boy's dream.

But I'm not an 8 year-old boy anymore, unless you ask my wife. Bugs and rocks, so I'm guilty, I suppose.

See, an 8 year-old boy wouldn't be afraid of flying, and I'm desperately so. I can't put my mind around the physics of it, you understand. I suppose it would be better if I'd taken classes that were more advanced than the study of bugs and/or rocks. But I didn't. So there.

The Embraer ERJ 145 airplane I flew in to New York a couple of weeks ago weighed approximately 38,000 pounds. Now, I don't know much about thrust, airfoils and whatever else it takes to get that puppy in the air and keep it there. And don't even get me started on why flying through cumulus clouds makes the multi-ton behemoth do the watusi at 28,000 feet. All I know is that my stomach doesn't like this.

I flew from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. one time -- never, ever go through Washington-Dulles, by the way; there's a free tip for you -- on a prop plane ... during a snowstorm ... before daybreak.

Nightmare doesn't begin to describe it. I'm not sure what made the plane shudder like a Maytag filled with 82 pounds of unbalanced bath towels. It could have been the chunks of ice that would dislodge from the nose of the plane and come careening back toward the propellers and explode when they hit the blades, or it could have been the Nor'Easter that no one bothered to tell the pilot was pounding the eastern seaboard. Could have been either one, frankly.

You want to know how to tell if you're on a bad flight? Watch the flight attendant. But on this trip, it wasn't an option. She was too busy sitting in her seat up front and staring at the floor. I think I heard a few Hail Marys, but I can't be sure.

I have a dozen stories like these, enough that I feel closer to God when on a business trip than anywhere else. I'm not kidding. I'm praying from check in to baggage claim.

But here's the curious thing: God rarely assuages my fear. Oh, there have been a few times He really cleared my mind, and quickly; flying into my home airport during a rainstorm one time, I almost audibly heard Him say "You are worth more than many sparrows," but for the most part, The Big Guy lets me deal with the stress on my own.

It ticked me off, to be honest with you. I never really understood why He was so cavalier about my fear. He has the ability to knock it out in one fell swoop, does He not? Yet each time that plane lifts off, I'm as nervous as Mike Tyson in a spelling bee (with apologies for blatantly ripping off Mark Driscoll on that one).

I never understood. At least, not until that flight to New York.

Christians can be put into two categories, for the most part: Milk Christians and Meat Christians. Milk Christians can't get too deep into the finer aspects of their spirituality. They are babes in Christ, still on the breast, not able to handle solid foods.

Meat Christians are warriors of the faith, able to look beyond surface level explorations of a life in Christ. Milk is fine for breakfast, but when dinner rolls around, it's time for a nice, juicy steak. Try giving filet mignon to my 17-month old. Not only couldn't her immature digestive system handle it, she'd refuse it as a matter of principle.

(The Apostle Paul wrote about this in some detail ... read 1 Corinthians 3 for more.)

Milk Christians are all about themselves and their own relationship to God: "Hallelujah, Christ is mine!" "Man, I can't wait to get to heaven ... won't it be cool?"

Meat Christians are all about God Himself, and what they can do to serve Him by serving others: "Man, I can't wait to tell others about heaven ... won't they think it's so cool?"

My fear of flying is solely the result of my own inadequacies as a Christian. Those Lord's Prayers I spout every time the plane hurtles down the runway? Those are Milk Christian prayers, sent to God purely to save my own skin, to keep myself from fear, to make myself more secure. They have nothing to do with anyone else -- except maybe the times I try to bribe God by explaning to Him that my wife wouldn't be able to raise two kids without me. And even then, it's all about me.

No, I need to start being a Meat Christian out on that runway, and that thought occured to me on a recent flight to New York. Why am I whining to God that He should keep me safe?

What about my wife, left home alone with two kids while I'm on a business trip? What about my dad, working a stressful job? What about a friend at work, going through a divorce? What about my daughters, their health and continuted development? What about my mom? What about my in-laws? My pastor? My co-workers? My neighbor? The Sudanese in Darfur? The homeless man who sleeps beneath the freeway less than a mile from my home? That guy at the gym who really annoys me?

It's shameful, really, that I'm too busy praying for my own skin when there's many more opportunities for intecessory prayer out there.

The question, then, is whether if I changed my attitude out there, focusing on others instead of my cowardly self, would God answer my original prayer and calm my frayed nerves?

Maybe, maybe not. But I can guarantee one thing: If I'm praying about someone else, how much time would I have to worry about myself?

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that one out.

(copyright andrew j. beckner, 2006. all rights under copyright reserved)


Alice said...


We should all be meat Christians.