The first time I ever set foot on an airplane was way back in 1972. My Grandfather Rowell had passed away; and since Dad, with my brother and sister in tow, had driven down earlier, my Mom and I boarded a Southern Airways Martin 404 at the Columbia airport for the trip down to Panama City. We went to gather with the family to celebrate the life of a man of whom I knew little, but for whom I held a great deal of love nonetheless.
I will leave the story of Grandpa Rowell for another day. For now let me tell you about the flight.
For those uninitiated, the Martin 404 was an old forty passenger two engine prop plane. It was quite noisy with the propellers spinning away on both wings with you in the middle, and to say the flight was smooth would be to lie. Actually it ranged somewhere between a flat tire and roller-coaster most of the time, but it got you there, as a rule.
On this particular day the thunderstorms of the South were apparently having a family reunion, because from Columbia to Panama City we did nothing but dodge the things. Make that, we dodged most of them. I was thrilled at the time though. You see, I love a roller-coaster; and to my young mind, it was a great ride.
All of that changed however, somewhere over Tifton, Georgia to the best of my recollection. For it was there that the plane, having zigged when it should have zagged, skipped over the top of a thunderhead and proceeded to drop like a stone over the other side. As we sped toward the red clay of Georgia at break neck speed, it suddenly dawned on me that I had no control, none whatsoever. I had foolishly listened to my mother and handed the reigns of my life over to some guy I had never met sitting in the nose of the plane. I didn’t know his name, his background, nothing, and yet my entire future depended upon what he did in the next few minutes. Boy, did I feel dumb or what?
In retrospect though, it appears to me that Southern Airways had a policy of hiring former fighter pilots, because with the strength of Samson and the skill of Chuck Yeager our pilot regained control of the plane. Quickly thereafter, he left our stomachs at about three thousand feet and popped that old plane back up to the top of the clouds just like a cork. I have loved flying ever since.
Galatians 2:20 reads as follows:
20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.
To my mind those words mean that in order for me to truly follow Christ, I must voluntarily surrender my independence into the hands of Christ, just as I unwittingly surrendered my life into the hands of that pilot all those years ago. In so doing I surrender my say-so to Christ so that His say-so can rule in my life.
The key word here is voluntarily. No one else can hand over the reigns of my life to Christ, except me. Christ is not going to wrest them from my grasp. Christ is no tyrant. Christ is a gentle, loving God who is not looking to conquer me, but to have me join Him in His ministry to the world.
In order for this to take place in my life, I must be willing to shed the independence that I so prize and totally yield to the supremacy of my Lord Jesus Christ. I must no longer live for my own ideas, for my own wants, for my own agenda; I must live totally for Christ.
Complete loyalty to Christ is what is needed if I truly want my life to be used for the Kingdom of God. Without such loyalty, without the release of my independence, my life, while appearing for all the world to be lived for Christ, will in truth be nothing more than a pious charade. I may appear to be a man of God; but in truth, without surrendering my independence to Christ, I will be nothing but a fraud.
The question I must ask myself is this: “Am I willing to give it all to Christ?
Am I willing to hand over all of my dreams, all of my aspirations, all of my everything so that I may be used by Christ in whatever fashion He chooses? Am I willing to be, ‘… crucified with Christ …?’ Am I willing to have Christ help Himself to me?”
On a more personal level, are you willing to let go of everything for Christ? Are you willing to let Christ help Himself to your agenda, your wants, and your desires? Are you willing to allow Christ to help himself to whatever He needs, no matter what?
Are you, like Paul before you, willing to “…consider them rubbish, that you may gain Christ and be found in him …?” Phil 3:8-9
I pray that you are willing. For Christ needs men and women of the Cross, duly crucified with Him, to carry His message of forgiveness and salvation to a world desperately seeking His touch.