Occasionally I meet people who are scared of flying. It’s a sentiment that’s hard for me to relate to; I first flew overseas with my family when I was four. But for many people it’s a very real feeling. John Madden, for example, traveled all around the country in an RV with a hired driver for his NFL broadcasts. The reason: he didn’t like to fly.
I can see how scary it is because the whole thing is counter-intuitive. You’re getting into a small metal tube with people you don’t know. You’re moving at extremely high speeds, going to altitudes of tens of thousands of feet. These are clearly things that the human body was not designed to do.
But there are assurances that make us go through with it. An online exchange provides a flight arrangement with a respected airline. These airlines have hired and trained pilots. They’ve also put together a reliable schedule, in cooperation with a host of flight controllers and an international network of airports. So, this past summer Hillary and I booked tickets for a family vacation in Michigan. We flew from Sacramento to Chicago-O’Hare, and then to Traverse City. The airlines got us there on time with our luggage, and brought us back as well. Our confidence in our flight plans paid off.
I thought of this while I was studying Hebrews 3:14, which says to “hold our first confidence firm to the end.” This suggests that some in the writer’s congregation were facing the temptation to abandon ship, and that would be bad news. If, after traveling from Sacramento to Chicago, I decided I couldn’t trust my flight plan anymore, then I wouldn’t complete my journey. But all the while the tickets that I held would give me promise of the full trip. It would be in my best interest to hang on to them and stick it through the journey.
And if this is true with airplanes and pilots, it is even more true with the promises that God has given us in Jesus Christ. Our expectation is grounded in the hope of where He is taking us. The Israelites of the Old Testament made the mistake of abandoning ship in the desert, and they perished accordingly (Hebrews 3:15-19). So we’re told to be careful; if it could happen to them, it could happen to us just as well.
What caused their downfall? Warren Wiersbe put it well: “The heart of every problem is a problem in the heart.” So the author of Hebrews gives a prescription for some appropriate “heart medicine”…
Keep in mind that all of this is built in the larger bonds of Christian community. We are “partakers” in Christ, or “partners” (3:14a). The preacher uses the Greek word metochos to indicate that we are sharing in a larger bond. Think of the similar English word metropolis, which refers to several cities under the umbrella of a greater metropolitan area. With us, each one of us shares in Christ, under His headship – with all the promises entailed for the journey that we are on. So hold on to your tickets and keep your confidence! It’s a good flight plan. The turbulence may be rough at times, but we’re assured of a safe landing in the end.
God bless you,
Pastor Andrew McHenry
I am a husband, a Congregational pastor, and a native Kansan currently living in Thermalito, California. In the past I have also been a prison chaplain and a youth pastor. Interests include reading, railroads, prog rock, KU, and the KC Royals.