Then, after what seems like hours, the travelers are boarded, zone by zone, onto the plane. They make their way to their seats, shoving huge bags into small compartments and getting the air vent pointed in the precisely perfect position. The cabin door shuts. The flight crew walks up and down the aisles, making sure every belonging is properly stowed for takeoff.
The plane moves backward, pulling away from the gate. The men on the ground, dwarfed by the enormous air craft, wave hand signals and directions for the plane. With slow and steady progress, the plane makes its way towards the runway, leaving the airport in the distance, moving toward the skies.
Takeoff is so close, you start to mentally prepare for the sounds and sensations of the propellers spinning at full force. You sit back in your chair, looking out the window, knowing that soon all the world will look like a toy land when you are high in the skies above.
And then something happens. All of a sudden the steady momentum forward comes to a halt. The plane stops on the tarmac. The propellers slow down. Movement ceases.
Whats happened? Is the airport grounding all flights? Is there a storm about to descend on the area? Has the plane suddenly experienced technical difficulties? Did the pilot fall asleep?
No, there is no emergency. This is simply a little delay. The pilot comes over the speaker system and informs you that you are fifth for takeoff. Just sit back and relax, he says, we'll be off the ground and in the skies shortly.
What does shortly mean? Fifteen, twenty, thirty minutes pass by and you are still on the runway. There is no word from the pilot. The term shortly must be used loosely in the pilot world, you think.
Then the plane moves again. The propellers start to make their deafening noise once again. The pilot comes back over the speaker system and tells the crew to take their seats in preparation for take off because we are first in line!
Finally, after what seems like a lifetime, the runway is clear, there are no planes in your way and the cabin is filled with the sound emanating from the roaring of the engine. It is time to go flying into the skies. The plane picks up speed. You sit back in your seat and close your eyes. Then the unmistakable sensation of the wheels leaving the earth beneath takes your breath away. You're airborne.
Those last thirty minutes stuck on the runway are a thing of the past. The buildings, streets and cars below fade into the distance. Before you know it the pilot is back, telling you that the plane is at cruising altitude. The trip is well under way and the tarmac is nothing but a memory.
In life there are days, months and sometimes years spent on the tarmac. Our life pulls away from the gate but there is an abrupt stop before we hit the skies. Our takeoff is delayed.
Has the pilot fallen asleep? Is there an emergency? Have we lost communication with the Control Tower?
No, our Pilot has certainly not fallen asleep. Just because we haven't taken off doesn't mean there is an emergency or that our communication lines have been severed. The Pilot, the all-knowing God, sees the runway and skies ahead. He knows the order for takeoff. He has our place and time secured. Liftoff is, indeed, ahead but it is not yet.
The time spent on the tarmac of life can feel endless. The temptation here is to grow impatient while we wait on our magic moment to liftoff. We start doubting whether or not our Pilot is really sitting in the cockpit at all. We start looking back at the airpot, imagining that it would be better to be there then stuck on a cramped plane.
Dear Traveler, God tells us to sit back and get comfortable, relax and rest. Just be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). God has not abandoned you, just as the pilot has not abandoned his passengers. He sees the other planes taking off and He has the best read on the skies above. He knows the best time for your life to rev its engines, speed down the runway and go soaring!
As you wait on the tarmac hold tight to the promises of God. Remember that as He says in Hebrews 13:5, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." God is with you on the lonely tarmac of life, preparing you for a smooth and exciting take off. Are you ready for the big moment? Secure your bags and get your seat in an upright position because before you know it you'll be first in line for takeoff.