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Friday, February 29, 2008

Amazing youth

I have always loved flying. My Dad was a missionary pilot for a while. He taught me not to be afraid and to trust his expertise. I wish it was possible to always retain the things we learn in our youth. Unfortunately, with age we practice caution and that leads to concern. In some areas concern can lead to fear.

After the attacks of 911, I prayed for all the victims and felt empathy for their families. I didn't realize at the time how much I thought about their last moments. It has left me with a small fear of flying. My mind tells me that it's perfectly safe and that more accidents happen on the highways than in the sky. My emotions fire back with - "but if it DID happen....what would I do?" I don't think it would be very lady like to run down the aisle screaming "Pray as loud as you can - we are all going to die!" I'm also not ready to be thrust into heaven's arms with a violent jolt. (Okay so I'm a little childish with these thought.)

The fear I have doesn't keep me away from flying, but it does become a problem when I tearfully walk into that super sonic bullet knowing I will be catapulted into the sky.

Flying to Florida involved a stop in Atlanta. My son was with me on the first trip and we had a great time talking and laughing. When I tried my seat on the second leg of my journey, the tears began to roll. I was seated by a window (my aisle seat had been changed) and I felt trapped. I asked the stewardess if I could change. A lovely lady switched with me and I felt better (especially since I couldn't see out).

I sat beside a young man with a beautiful smile. He helped me get settled and we introduced ourselves. I apologized to Jack and explained that I was afraid. His smile was comforting but his words dug into my heart.

"It's okay. Don't worry. I'm in the military and I'll take care of you."

We spent most of the 90 minutes talking about where he was stationed, where he was going and what his career had meant to his life. Jack was 20 and came from a military family. He was proud that he was serving in his father and grandfather's unit. He was concerned about America but mostly wanted to serve. He wanted to be sure that people like me were safe.

"Most military people do all they can to avoid the press. They twist things you know. Everyone I serve with knows that we should be in Iraq and we are proud to protect our country. I would love to get on television and tell the real truth about Iraq, but they would only twist it to fit their agenda."

While Jack talked about his commitment, I was humbled. He could have chosen a life of ease and fun but instead he answered the call of protection. He was willing to say, "I'll stand between you and danger. I'll protect you with my life."

I was afraid to board an airplane - he was confident to face insurgents that want to kill. I simply cried for God's mercy - he had to trust not only God but his training as well.

He talked about his first day and how he froze on his first scout. He stopped and starred ahead for a moment. "I couldn't make myself move. I was only 18 then and it was my first time facing a real enemy."

I fought back tears, "I guess your life flashed before your eyes." He smiled again and shook his head yes. "What did you do?"

He put his hand on his heart. "My buddies yelled at me and I kept going. You have to keep going. Don't think about it. Just keep going. It's all about heart, training and determination."

It's hard for me to stop thinking about that encounter. Jack was a good looking, kind young man. Even though I only had 90 minutes with him, I can confidently say he is a representative of the cream of the crop. I will be praying for him. I will ask God to send his largest angels to protect him.

I am also grateful for his inspiration. From now on when I'm afraid I will think of Jack. I will try to do what he taught me. I will claim God's love. I will train hard to be a good soldier of God and I will strengthen my determination to follow in God's footsteps.

Jack is in man's army. We are in God's army. Are you able to complete your daily drills? Can you follow orders? Are you resolved to win the fight? Do you trust your brothers in arms to support you and follow you in battle? Are you working to be the strongest link in the chain?

Let's spend time today praying for the sweet faces of youth as they protect us all across the globe. Let's also remember our own duties in this great army of God.

God loves you,


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