When I was 20 yeas old, I said goodbye to my family and started my journey in life. I visualized embarking on this new adventure as having my own personal airplane and I was the pilot. I could go anywhere I wanted.
Now, just like real planes, in my vision, there was a cockpit with seating for the pilot, the co-pilot, the navigator and the jumpseat. In aviation terms, the jumpseat is an auxiliary seat for individuals – other than normal passengers – who are not working to operate the aircraft. They are simple, no frills seats designed to fold up when not in use, and used by people, such as other airline employees hitching a ride home.
I made the decision to be the pilot of my vessel. By age twenty, life had shown me I was on my own and I was the only one I needed. I depended on no one so I would never be disappointed again. As a matter of fact, the seats of co- pilot and navigator in my airplane were empty. I didn’t need help as I could do everything on my own.
I was savvy enough and knew what I wanted with big dreams and plans. But then, there was that pesky jumpseat in the cockpit. I decided to allow God to occupy it. I had heard He was always with me, even though I had no evidence of it. I did not trust God, but what the heck…He could come along for the ride. No need to do anything God, I’ve got it.
And so my independent life began. Along the way I visualized trips I would take and the career I would embark on. I did take those trips, but when I did, they were not as fun as I thought they would be. I started a career, which I thought would bring me riches, but discovered I was not equipped to handle the job.
Over the years I took on a few passengers. I married by 22, started my own business that same year, and by 28 had two children, a husband, a home, nice cars and a career where I was the boss. I was still in the pilot’s seat. Why did I feel so out of control?
One day, I realized I was in a tailspin. Things did not always go smoothly. Come to think of it, they never went smoothly. I was overwhelmed with responsibility and under staffed on the flight deck. I was spiraling out of control.
On my thirtieth birthday, I realized I had had enough. My plane was taking a nosedive, preparing to crash; I was going nowhere but down. I was done and wanted out of life… I planned my demise.
A few minutes before I was to hit the ground, God–who had been sitting quietly in the jumpseat all these years–rose and took over the controls. He reached out his arms and caught me just as I was about to navigate my final dissent. He stopped me in midair.
As He gently set me down, He whispered in my ear, “I have great plans for you. You have many wonderful journeys awaiting you. Would you allow me to help?” I gazed upon this gentle, kind being and saw Him as never before. He had been sitting patiently in the jumpseat all these years, watching over me, but never intruding. When I saw this illuminate being, I was so overwhelmed I couldn’t speak, but managed to shake my head “yes.” No words would come out.
“Very well,” He said as He climbed into the pilot seat, the place I had sat for such a long time. “Grab a chair, “ He told me. “Sit anywhere you would like.” I looked around and saw the three seats. The co-pilot seat…nah…the navigator chair? Nope…I was done making decisions. Obviously I was not equipped to handle these roles. Then I spied the jumpseat. I knew this was where I belonged. As I slid into the accommodations, I noticed how uncomfortable it was. A seat with no frills… they weren’t kidding. How had God sat there all those years without complaining?
God called back to me, “Don’t forget to buckle your seat belt.” Hearing His voice, I looked up and noticed my seat was directly behind Him.
I sat in that seat for months, never getting comfortable, feeling all the pain as if I was sitting on a plank. Occasionally, God would ask me if I wanted to change seats, or try out a different chair. “No,” was always my answer. I didn’t deserve any luxury.
As God piloted my life, I started to look out the windshield. Sometimes God would drive fast, other times slow. We would stop at many unusual places, places I had never heard or thought of. Sometimes we would be up in beautiful clouds and other times in dark storms. No matter what, God never seemed rattled.
One day, He turned to me and asked for a favor. “Well, what is it?” was my response.
“Go back and ask the passengers if they want some refreshments.”
Refreshments? Passengers? I had forgotten they were there. “Sure,” I said. That seemed like a pretty easy request. I went back and sure enough the passengers seemed to be happy to see me. My husband and kids were there, but also several people I had forgotten about. My parents, brothers, aunts and uncles plus a few friends. Once I got them all settled, I returned to my jumpseat, but something had began to shift inside me. Helping them made me feel better. I started watching God and how He was navigating the plane, how He was taking the twists and turns of my life and weaving them into a beautiful tapestry. He was a master of creativity where my life was concerned, bringing interesting people into my life and putting me into strange situations.
A while later, during a particularly bad storm, God once again asked my assistance. “Debby, I need you to go back and calm the passengers down. Tell them everything will be ok. Explain to them they just need to trust Me.”
Calm them down? Calm them down? Who was going to calm me down? Tell them to trust God? Did I trust God? Could I pull it off? When I really thought about it, although I didn’t like storms, I was actually calm. I had learned to trust God with my life. Now, could I convey the message to my passengers? As I went to the back of the plane I noticed there were more people on board than I remembered. Where were they coming from? Could it be from all those different stops?
I could feel the tension in the air as I began my dialogue. I took a deep breath. “Everyone, I know it looks scary out there in the world. I know the sky is black and the storm is hitting us very hard. But God has this one under control. He has navigated these skies before and He will not let us down. Trust me…ah, um trust Him. He will keep us safe. But we need to take action. Sit down, buckle up and pray. If the oxygen masks come down, put yours on first before helping someone else. Stay calm, hold hands and know God has everything under control.
Much to my surprise, they did what I asked. Then, almost by magic, the storm past and there were blue skies again.
I was almost giddy when I returned to the cockpit. I couldn’t wait to tell God what had happened. When I stepped in, I noticed immediately things had changed. My jumpseat was folded up and neatly put away. God was no longer sitting in the pilot chair. “What’s going on God… where is my seat? Why aren’t you at the controls?”
He looked at me with His loving eyes and told me it was time to pilot my own life now. “You have rested and learned well, and you are strong enough to handle your journey. If you wish, I will be right by your side, able to guide you should something come up you don’t feel you can handle. With your permission, I would like to be your co-pilot and together we will navigate your life.” He held His arms out pointing to the control seat and motioned for me to sit down. It was scary, to be sure.
When I sank into the pilot’s chair, I could feel that something was indeed different. I was different. It was more like a Captains chair and I no longer felt isolated or that need to control everything. I felt exuberant with new ideas and confident, with God by my side, I could take whatever came my way and turn it into something positive.
My vessel was no longer an airplane. With God, it had become a starship and just like in Star Trek, my starship would go where no man or woman had gone before. I was a pioneer of my life, and with Gods help, I could go anywhere and become anything. I decided to name my aircraft, The Starship of Possibilities.
It’s been thirty years since God caught me in his loving arms, and I have never spent a day without Him since. Actually, there has never been a day in my entire life that I was separated from Him… I just didn’t know it.
I thank Him every day for not allowing me to carry out my plan of ending my life. And since that day my passengers, better known as the people in my life, have more than quadrupled. I now have a fleet of friends who serve as my advisors and companions as I travel through the galaxy, going places I never dreamed would be possible. Thanks to a jumpseat and the Creator of the Universe, a loving and awesome God – a God that with him, anything is possible.