City Lights

4 AM should not exist. That’s what I told myself when my alarm went off this morning. I rushed to get ready, and the friend from church who was taking me to the airport arrived just after five.

5 AM, and I’m packed up heading to Philadelphia. All I could think about was how tired I was. Greg and I talked in the car about random things. Nothing too important. I was feeling pretty good, until I saw the exit for McGee-Tyson Airport. Denial stopped, and panic set in.

The first thing to note here is how cold the employees are. Everybody was rushed and short and not inviting at all, and I needed them to be. I needed them to explain to me the stupid questions I kept asking, because telling me I need to go to the “terminal” when I don’t even know what that means… Greg had to swoop in and save me twice, even after he’d already left. There was a lot of doubt getting on the plane, a lot of fear, and I won’t say I didn’t want to run out of there and beg someone to just take me home.

As soon as I stepped onto the plane, a rude stewardess stops me, and in some accent I couldn’t understand, said something to the effect of, “You can’t take that guitar on here.” She then proceeds to take it from my shoulder, and without even knowing what’s happening, throws it carelessly into a carry-on closet with a hundred suitcases, all ready to be knocked around and against my soft case covering. I opened my mouth to ask her a question, but she just waved at me to go down the aisle, I guess to keep the line moving.

I couldn’t find my seat. I’m pretty sure I sat in the wrong one. And of all places, I landed in the row with the emergency exit. A different flight attendant came over and asked me if I was willing to open the door in case of emergency, to which I said okay. I was thinking now was an emergency.

The flight attendant came over the intercom and informed everyone that if anyone wanted off the plane for any reason, this was their last chance to exit. It took something pretty deep out of me to not run off of the plane right then. I don’t even know why I stayed. By that time, I was so beaten up and miserable that I didn’t care if I never saw my guitar again. I just didn’t want to go to Pennsylvania, to go be involved with God knows what, and I didn’t want to feel the way I felt right then.

The plane took off, and I turned my phone to the window to film the scenery. And then I start asking myself the hard questions. “Have you lost your mind?” was one of them. “You’re going to go be on a TV show? Why?” “It’s a waste. You’re a waste.” The enemy was just laying into me hard. I wasn’t even sure where half of it was coming from.

The plane ascends to that point just before everyone’s ears began to pop. And as I’m looking out the window down to the shrinking scene of Knoxville, I see it. Now, I guess an atheist wouldn’t have seen anything more than city lights. But Jesus said, My sheep hear My voice, and they follow Me. Maybe that’s why I saw it. And I’m a believer in taking whatever comfort you can get. Below Flight 5126, in perfect formation, were city lights in the undeniable shape of a cross.

I drew some crazy kind of peace from that. There’s so many people right now in my life who are watching me and biting their nails, like I’m a movie full of suspense. They know how they want it to end, but know that it might not end that way. And right then, I felt the Lord saying, “I’m not nervous. I know how the movie ends.”

I wonder at times, doesn’t Christ make me free from anxiety, and free from fear? Doesn’t he break bondage and chains? The short answer is yes… But there’s more to it than that. By having freedom, we are free to do as we please. It doesn’t mean the things of the world won’t be there. It just means we don’t have to be a slave to them anymore. Being free means even though you really fear something, you do it anyway. Being free means even when you want to run away and forget, you stay and fight. Freedom means that even though every fiber of your being is screaming at you to bolt it off the plane, you choose to stay in your seat. Freedom means you are free to decide if you’re going to stay home where it’s safe and familiar, or to go to a foreign city, scared and alone, armed with nothing but a guitar and the blood of Christ. And freedom means you can decide if you see city lights, or a brilliantly illuminated cross, telling you it’s okay.

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