Was there a turning point or an event in your life that makes you the military wife that you are today? Was it a single event or perhaps something profound? Or maybe it wasn’t just an isolated event, but instead a season in your life in which God allowed you to experience something so unique, personal and incredible that it gave you a genuine God-encounter.
Long before I met my sailor husband, God allowed me to experience something that would later serve me well as a military wife. I was seventeen years old at the time and living in Kansas. My parents had divorced years earlier and I often flew back and forth from Kansas to California for visits with my dad. If it wasn’t for the fact that he worked for TWA (Trans World Airlines) I probably wouldn’t of had the experience I had that helped me to understand a key point about faith–taking God at His Word. I had flown to many parts of the world during my teen years and in all the thousands of miles logged, I hadn’t encountered something so sinister that it would ultimately put my faith to the test.
I was returning home following a week-long visit with my dad. I boarded a plane at the San Francisco International Airport, once again bound for Kansas City. On this particular flight, everything seemed normal enough. This flight path had become so routine over the years that I became familiar with the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. I knew them by sight from my window airplane seat. However, it wasn’t long before I sensed something was off. The plane was flying unusually low over the Rocky Mountains. And we still had another hour and a half of flying time before arriving in Kansas City. I grew more and more uneasy as I waited anxiously to know what was up.
My intuition was soon confirmed. The captain announced over the intercom that someone back in San Francisco reported placing a bomb aboard my flight forcing the plane to make an emergency landing at Denver International. What had been a quiet flight was now filled with nervous chatter from the other passengers. Suddenly, a desperate need to get off the plane overwhelmed me. If there was any comfort to be had, it was the fact that death would be quick.
Flying alone, I left my seat several times to make tearful distress calls to God in the airplane’s lavatory. The possibility that every second could be my last nearly paralyzed me. I didn’t know many Scripture verses by heart which only fueled my inner terror. Eager to put my feet on solid ground, I kep checking my watch, marking off every minute that passed.
As I peered out my airplane window down at the mountains rising up at me, I said what parts of Psalm 23 I knew. “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff–they comfort me” (v. 4 NIV). I thought of my family, my friends, my own life, and about the things I hoped to still do. What I didn’t contemplate was the possibility that God could call me home. Sitting in my seat, possibly in the clutches of evil, I reasoned that I could either succumb to fear and torment or place my trust in Him and take God at His Word–that He is truly with me as Psalm 23 declares. I had to settle the issue in my heart that God is still in control and know that “my times are in your [His] hand;” (Psalm 31:14-15). I continued to pray asking God to help me to hold it together.
Another hour passed. Now completely dark, I knew we had to be getting close to the Denver airport. And suddenly there they were!–the brightly lit runway lights! How comforting those runway lights were–like a channel that leads a boat into the safety of the harbor, those runway lights were beacons of hope for me.
In what seemed like eternity the wheels of the plane touched the runway and the heaviness I felt eased. Safety was now in sight. The plane at last came to a stop at the end of the runway. The captain hastily gave us the emergency directions and ordered us to leave behind our carry-ons. Like a disturbed herd of sheep, we scurried out the tail end of the plane and down a ladder into airport buses. Rushed to the terminal, we were put under heavy guard while bomb sniffing dogs scoured the plane. Four hours later we were given the all clear signal and allowed back on the plane and continued on to Kansas City.
As a seventeen-year-old, my faith took a turn that day. I no longer thought of Jesus as simply a Savior, thereby securing my spot in heaven, but instead God had revealed Himself to me in a whole new dimension–that of my Protector and Helper. Not because I was now safe, but because when I was in those desperate moments, there was no one else to place my hopes in. All I could do was take God at His Word, trusting that He was with me like His Word promises.
Later, when I became a Navy wife, I often thought about that harrowing experience and what God revealed to me because of it. There were other situations that came up as a military family over the years that beckoned me to take God at His Word. And believe He will do what He says He will do.
Post Script: I thought that landing safely in Kansas City was the end of my harrowing experience, but that was not to be. Incredibly, later that same night I encountered another dreadful adventure–this time on a 4-seater commuter flight caught in a terrible storm. To read it, enter your first name only and email address at the top right of this page to download my free Fifteen Day Devotional with that story. And if you have a story of your own to share how God prepared you for the military lifestyle, please share it. I’m looking forward to connecting with my readers.