Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Faith at 19,000 feet...

The gentle bumping and rocking of the small plane doesn’t give me concern. The fact that we’re rocking along to the noise of the sputtering plane engine at an altitude of about 19,000 feet in the air, with wind currents that seem to playfully toss the plane about in a sort of childhood type game doesn’t cause alarm. Instead I actually love the feeling of being jolted about a bit in the air, in a tiny plane, knowing we will either fly through safely or not --- and God is the One who decides; I’m comforted that there is nothing for me to do but to sit and trust. And I allow myself, at my inner core, to imagine I’m a child being rocked about in a cradle with a parent that is in control. It’s not something I convince myself of, it’s just the way I naturally respond to the turbulence felt in a small aircraft bouncing through the atmosphere.

Flying from Nairobi, Kenya north to Lodwar, we fly over a portion of the Great Rift Valley and watch in silent awe as the landscape below us transforms from what feels like one planet to another. We leave the lush, greenery of the Rift Valley and slowly relinquish the shades of green to tints of browns. The “life” seems to be drained out of the earth before our very eyes. Flying over the equator, we laughingly remark that there really is “no red line” defining that mystical line our minds have tattooed in red marking this outermost point circling our world.  The roads all merge into one road that travels a perilous path to northern Kenya. We opted to fly, because the drive can be much more dangerous and the journey of 18+ hours on land is efficiently covered in 3 hours in our 10 passenger prop.  The noise inside our silver capsule doesn’t allow for chit-chat among us, but instead noisily guides us to plug Ipods in, listening to music, and for me praising and praying. I love the moments, that can roll into hours for me – when I’m left alone to just talk with and listen to my Daddy God. And that was the agenda for the 3+ hours I flew over the earth He created through the sky He made.

The views were perfectly matched by the soundtrack of praise being played in my ears. It was a time of surreal positioning 19,000 feet above the norm of my gravity laden world; I embrace the opportunity to “hear” my Father’s voice.

Years before this, I had come to know the deep, unearthly goodness, the peace that surpasses what words can express, as I learned to pray intimately to my God for those around me, and in pursuit of the me He looks on --- not the me I live with, but the Donna He sees. And in those moments of being in His presence, my one complete addiction took hold --- nothing compares to holding onto His ankle (or laying my head on His toe), breathing the air that surrounds my Father as I feel the wisp of His robes swirling about me, and listening, just listening to the sounds that come from Him to me. But that’s for another posting…

So I relished the thoughts of my 3+hour flight with Him.

Just north of the equator, our prop plane flew into a bank of white clouds that allowed us continued glimpses of the earth below for a short time, but then seemed to encapsulate us in a God sized cotton ball. We rode silently through the blue skies with nothing but white softness below us, beside us, and above us. We could see the delicate shapes of the clouds and distinguish one cloud from another as they overlapped one another and completely surrounded us. The phenomenon was beautiful beyond description, we were wrapped in a world of white beauty. And that’s when my Father whispered to my heart.
“You can’t see the ground below you anymore, but you KNOW it is there. That, my dear daughter, is faith.”
When God through the Holy Spirit speaks so clearly to my heart and mind like this, I often times spin my head around just to see if perhaps someone else caught it too. It’s so CLEAR and real.
But no one else in my flying silver capsule seemed to notice and so I resumed my window view and began the daughter dialogue with my Daddy God.
I revisited the verse in Hebrews – about faith being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you can not see. And I listened.

You see, I was nervous about meeting these people we were flying to serve. In the remote areas where we would be going, they live exactly as their ancestors have lived for hundreds of years. They do not know my world and I knew I was not ready for theirs. And so this journey was a step, leap, well --- it was actually more like a hurl of faith. God wanted us to serve there, to go there, to see, and to be changed there in HIS hands. And so we were simply obeying.
But first, He, in His goodness, would teach me a sweet truth about faith at 19,000 ft. over the world.

I could not see the ground below us, it was, if relying on sight alone, it was gone. But my mind KNEW the ground was most certainly below us, as it had always been. I knew there were people, trees, animals, rivers, I knew there was life just beyond where my eyes were being allowed to visit. But none of it could be seen. I looked up to see the blue sky I knew would be above me, for it had always been there. For over 4 decades I had looked up and seen the sky over my head. But on that day, there was only white. I KNEW the sky was over head, it had always been there, it’s a core reality of life right --- the sky is overhead and the ground is underneath. But for miles and miles of bumpy reality ---- the sky and the ground were not in sight. If I relied on what I could see --- the earth and sky were gone. But if I inferred with what I knew and had experienced, if I tapped into what I had learned and been told by others, I could move forward with the complete assurance the earth and sky were unchanged and very much present, but simply out of my range of sight for a time.
That is faith.
To KNOW that what you can not see is there.
To KNOW because of what you have learned and experienced in the past, that just beyond what you can see --- is the reality of what is real ---- that is faith.
It’s a place of unearthly reality ---- that carries God’s smile and our quizzical wonderings.
God and I conversed for miles and miles about His lesson to me about faith. He shared with me that there would be more lessons of faith in my earthly existence. He clarified to me, it was vitally important to receive each lesson obediently and with a childlike surrender, so I could move to the next level and know more.
More about faith.
More about HIM.
More from Him.
Less of the confusion of this world.
Less of the dependence on what I can or can not see.

In the clouds over Kenya, faith came alive for me. I revisit those clouds often when the clouds of doubt and trouble surround me. I remember ---- and smile.

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."
Hebrews 11:1


  1. This post helps me tremendously. It's normal to be afraid of doing certain things that I know I am called to do. I recently saw a verse that leaped out at me(Ezra 10:4)"Arise, for it is your duty, and we are with you. Be strong and brave and do it.". Wow - is this verse not forceful and clear? I'm going to keep this written down and always with me. I must simply "do it" - step outside my comfort zone, go and serve, no matter how initially uncomfortable!

  2. So true Rebecca. Thank you for sharing.
    Just this morning I was reading from "Jesus Calling" and was so moved by this sentence, "Since I went to such extreme measures to save you from your sins, you can be assured that I will graciously give you all you need."
    The author drew this sentence from Romans 8:32
    "If God didn't hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn't gladly and freely do for us?" (The Message)
    Food for our faith isn't it friend.
    love you!

  3. you mentioned Jesus Calling and i'm wondering if you have the 2004 edition or the 2010 journaling version.

    i also realized i don't have an email address for you other than HFA. hope you and yours are enjoying this Christmas and the gift of the snow!

  4. Hello Jenn - I have the 2004 edition :)
    My email is --- donnastumaini@gmail.com
    Christmas was SWEET -- the snow was wonderful -- I hope your holidays are lovely as well friend.