Look, Dad! The plane! The plane!

The year was 1978. The location was a mysterious island in the Pacific where visitors came to live out all sorts of fantasies at a sort of hotel. The proprietor of this hotel was a Mr. Roarke, whose assistant, Tattoo, would shout, “The plane! The plane!” upon the arrival of these guests by air. And it was here that the episode began. Visitors began to live out things they had only dreamed of—reconnecting with lost friendships, finding large hidden treasures, discovering new parts of themselves they had never realized, and the like.

Fast forward twenty-two years. The year was 2000 and I was in southern California studying at a private Christian university. My summer plans involved a mission trip to Romania and our team of eleven needed our last bit to purchase plane tickets, yet another chunk to cover our costs in-country. As a college student, I’d seen God’s provision before—tuition payments were a regular opportunity for Him to show that He was truly the owner of the cattle on a thousand hills. But this trip was important (didn’t He know that?) and an airfare purchase to Europe for roughly a dozen of us was a bit larger of a purchase than this kid had seen, or made, before. Our travel agent had found us a great deal, lower than we had budgeted for, on KLM, that wonderful Dutch airline with its Smurf-blue planes. Tickets were purchased. Sure enough, that daily Smurf-blue flight was easily spotted from the skies of my school, which happened to be right under the LAX landing path. As we prepared for our trip, the appearance of KLM Flight 601 into Los Angeles was a regular reminder of God’s provision, the fact that I was under His care and that worry was not needed as I lived in His plan.

Fast forward to 2012. This week actually. Living in the same area still, that Smurf-blue flight still makes itself known on a daily basis. And I happen to see it just when I need it most—at a time when I begin to once more doubt God’s goodness, His presence in my life, His protection over me and my family. Then, out of the blue (pun unintended), there it comes. And it’s a reminder just the same as it was before—that God is present, that He is with me, and that He is calling me to things I’ve never dreamed of. For many of the last few years, the appearance of that flight comes just when it’s needed. So, as I wondered this week about what lay ahead for my family as we approach the holidays, property tax bills, a fiscal cliff and the like, I hear my baby girl say to me, “A plane!” as we’re by the window. Could it be? Sure enough, I look up and it’s my Smurf-blue reminder of the fact that nothing can separate us from the love of God, from His care for His children and from the knowledge that I am His.

Now, the fun begins in translating this to my little one, of God’s provision for us, and how He reminds us of it in the most inconspicuous of ways.

Christmas, Fear and The Abominable Snowman

Ebay’s done it.  Toys “R” Us, too.  Count Target in as well.  What am I talking about?   Well, it’s the first week of November.  This week marks the beginning of Christmas sales.

Today, at many a shopping center near you, workers will finish their packing up of leftover Halloween candy and getting out Christmas wrapping paper, increasing their stock of toys for the kiddoes and beginning to play cheesy-yet-nostalgic Christmas tunes over the PA system (like “Ho, ho, ho!  Ho, ho, ho!  We are Santa’s elves!”—and if you can tell me the rest of this tune, you’re a rock star. Anyone?).

While Christmas does seem to get off to a start earlier each year, I appreciate the opportunity to celebrate a holiday that is indeed worthy of lots of celebration.  So, with this in mind, it was a treat to be with some friends recently in a passage in Luke 1.  In the passage, which takes place 9 months before that original, first Christmas, we find Mary the mother of God approached by the angel Gabriel.

Gabriel tells Mary that she had found favor with God (see more of the passage here).  My friends replied that their first response would have been, “Uh-oh.”  What had Mary done that God had noticed her?  What did He want of her?  Oftentimes, in the clash of our desire to serve God and maintain our own security, we respond similarly.  Uh-oh, God.  You want me to do what?  Isn’t there someone else for the job that you could pick?

Yet, I respond this way because I forget the rest of the passage and the rest of the things the angel told Mary.  Reading on, the passage continues to say that the child Mary will bring forth “will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.  And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:32-33).

Really?  But, God, You must be wrong!?  My internal tension to trust God and His goodness while balancing my own fears is strong.  Yet, Gabriel tells Mary that things would be good.  A new kingdom would be established through her—one that continues to this day—that would reestablish the plan God originally intended for humanity.  Is there anything else to fear?   May your fears and mine cease and be seized in our continued reflection that God’s plan is good and attainable.