If you’ve ever flown aboard a passenger aircraft, then you’ve heard that announcement. It’s usually preceded by a little bell; you look above your seat and the seat belt indicator is indeed aglow. And, if you are inclined toward following directions, and you know what’s good for you, you grab the clasp of the belt with one hand and the buckle with the other and “click” – you’re done. The dynamics are really very simple. When in motion, the vehicle and passenger are traveling at the same speed in the same direction. If the vehicle suddenly stops or makes a course change, the unrestrained passenger continues at the former speed and previous direction, and you have a catastrophe. But thanks to the inventive mind of English engineer George Cayley in the mid-19th century and several evolutions of the seat belt or safety belt, such catastrophes have been substantially reduced. Many lives have been saved and injuries minimized by a simple restraint that most of us anymore just take for granted. Except when you’re on an airplane and hear that announcement.
In so many ways, life is like an airplane ride. You’ve taken off, and made the climb and now you’re cruising at 35,000 feet – everything smooth as silk. Suddenly, you hear the “ding,” the light goes on, and then the directive – “Ladies and gentlemen, please fasten your seat belts.” Oftentimes an explanation will follow, i.e. – “There is some turbulence ahead. You might feel some bumpiness in your ride; but don’t be alarmed. Please keep your seat belts fastened until instructed to do otherwise.” Then it hits – or the plane hits it, and your seat leaves the plane seat; and were it not for that belt holding onto you, there could have been a genuine catastrophe.
Just a week prior to the date of this blog, the nation, the whole world was enjoying a wonderful, silky smooth ride to new heights in the international stock markets. For most of a year we saw one financial growth record after another broken. Then the course changed, and the rapid speed of incline was greatly surpassed by a more rapid decline. And, at this moment, the plummet continues. Just a little more than a week ago a very good man, traveling a route he had taken many times, lost control of his vehicle and perished. His wife and two young sons are left to live their lives without husband and father. Some weeks ago, a grandfather like me, lost his only grandchild suddenly and unexpectedly. The course and speed of life changes; abruptly and sometimes tragically. Seat belts were made and are used with an awareness, even an expectation, that such changes will happen.
“Ding;” “Ladies and Gentlemen – do you have your seat belts on?” Not the one invented by George Cayley, but the One who gave you life and knows everything there is to know about your life – every speed up and slow down; every twist and turn; every high and low. God is so aware of your life that nothing, absolutely nothing that happens in your life or anyone’s life takes Him by surprise. David, the great psalm writer said in Psalm 139:16 that God knows how many days you’ll live before you’ve lived the first one. And He knows not only the number of days in your life and mine; He knows the content. He literally is watching you and me and everyone else with a keen interest in everything we do: “From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth – he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.” (Psalm 33:13-15 New International Version) God has His eye on you; but He wants to be more than an observer. The seat belt light is on; is yours buckled?
The safety in a seat belt comes not from your holding onto it, but from it holding onto you. And there is no safety at all unless you buckle-up. We all live our lives under God’s awareness; but only those who choose to click-it (trust the Divine Safety Belt) can rest assured of His care: “When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared.” (Proverbs 3:24-26 New International Version) Many choose not to put their seat belts on – even though the evidence is they save lives. They argue that they are too confining; or they know people who actually were injured by them; or if this plane goes down, it really won’t make any difference. But, while all those arguments are to some degree true, doesn’t it just make sense to entrust yourself to something designed to cope with the sudden and ruinous turns in life. Wearing seat belts doesn’t mean you’ll never be involved in an accident; but it does increase your chances of surviving it. Trusting God with your life doesn’t mean you won’t have hardships or experience tragedies; it does mean He will personally see you through them and, in the end, bring you to a higher place. “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Seat Belt light is on. If you haven’t already; it’s time to buckle up!”
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.” (Acts 16:31 NIV)
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;” (Isaiah 43:2-3 NIV)