Well my message today “Flying Right Side up in an Upside Down World.” You can soar. Today I’m going to teach you how to fly. I’m going to teach you how to soar effortlessly, counting on God to right your flight.
Now you know, vacations for those of us who have little ones, young parents with a lot of children, vacations can sometimes be more trouble than they’re worth. Do I get an amen? And my husband and I, we had our boys in very quick succession, try saying that five times fast. But we decided, I thought where can I go, what can I do where mom also gets vacation and I also get some time to rest. And I thought Hawaii. Hawaii here we come. And I thought it’ll be a challenge to get there, but at least the boys can play in the sand underneath a palm tree and it’ll be peaceful and restful.
So we saved our money, we decided not to buy tickets for the two youngest. Jason was three, Chris was one and Scott was a baby. We decided we’d hold Chris and Scott on our laps, buy a seat for Jason and then we would take Auntie Phyl with us. Auntie Phyl is short for Aunt Phyllis and she was my husband’s aunt. She was never married, never had children and we thought well we’ll take Auntie Phyl along. She’ll enjoy Hawaii and of course I selfishly was thinking and I’ll have some help. I’ll have another pair of hands to help me with these three little boys.
So we got packed up, we got to the airport. Well we got on and no sooner were we on and of course first they said those of you with children get to board first and I was like hurray! Finally! And I’m thinking gosh Sheila, that’s kind of stupid. That just means you get to sit on the plane longer than everybody else. But of course I wasn’t thinking very clearly at that time, I was a frazzled young mom and got on the plane and as people were coming, you know how they are. They go down those aisles, it’s tight and they’re waiting and they’re impatient and of course that whole plane was full of grumpy people and grumpy flight attendants. And Jason spilled his Lego’s into the aisle and we’re trying to gather them up as quickly as we can and the flight attendant says “can you please keep your”.. of course we know, we know. Give us a chance.
Those boys were yelling and screaming. Not Jason. He’s here. He was a good boy. His two younger brothers who aren’t here, no they were trouble, let me tell you. And so any rate, we had our hands full and I think today we probably would have been bumped off the plane by one of those flight marshals or whatever they call themselves. But people were still coming down, putting their luggage in the overhead compartments. And first of all, you have to understand the arrangement. There were three seats and three seats. So there was Auntie Phyl, Jason, Jim with Chris, big Chris. He was 10 4 at birth. Chris at one, in front of me and I’m right behind him holding Scott. So I’m kind of out of the loop but I’m trying to make sure my family’s okay, watching from behind. And I hear Auntie Phyl push the call button for the flight attendant. Mind you people are still putting things in their overhead compartments. She says “I would like a drink.” A drink? A drink? I’ve never seen Auntie Phyl drink before in my life. Maybe she’s nervous. I don’t blame her. I mean there had been a two hour delay, grumpy people, and maybe she’s scared to fly. I thought oh my goodness, I didn’t know. Maybe she’s scared to fly.
Now my husband told me after the first service, be sure you tell everybody, Sheila, it was just wine. Well, a drink is a drink. Right? And a half hour into this flight, Auntie Phyl pushed that call button again. She sure did. And that flight attendant came over and I heard Auntie Phyl say “I’d like a drink.” Two drinks? One half hour? Oh my gosh. I’m really nervous. I’m thinking she’s not going to be any help! In fact I’m feeling now like I’ve got four kids, not three. But things settled down and we were off to paradise.
About half way there, about two and a half hours into the flight, I see the flight attendant coming back to this row in front of me again, and I thought oh here we go again. Is Auntie Phyl called for another drink? Like I say, I’ve never seen her drink before or since. But it wasn’t. The flight attendant actually didn’t look grumpy at us like she had been every other time. I heard her say to my husband, I couldn’t hear what he said, but she said “well sir,” very concerned, “I’ll go ask the captain.” She turned, walked towards the cockpit. I tapped Jim on the shoulder; I said “what’s going on?” He turns his head over as far as he can and he says “half my face is frozen.” Half your face is frozen? “Yes. I can’t blink this eye and I can’t smile. Only this side goes up and only this eye blinks. Half my face is frozen.” I thought oh my gosh. I’m halfway up, who knows where, above the Pacific Ocean with an aunt who doesn’t know too much about children and has had a couple drinks, and three babies and a husband whom I’m afraid has had a stroke.
She comes back and she said “the captain wants to know do you want to turn around and go back?” I thought of all these grumpy people who’d waited for two hours, who are not happy with us already and can you imagine if they said oh by the way, we’re going back to LAX because this family up here wants to go back. I tapped him on the shoulder, I said “no, no, no, we are not turning around, we are going forward.”
Well she said “I’ll let the captain know.” So she went back and pretty soon she came back with a smelling salt from the captain and she said “try this. Sometimes that works.” So he broke the smelling salt and sniffed this pungent odor and the vapors apparently eased whatever was going on up in his sinus cavities and full smile. Great, nothing wrong, but by this time we were soaring and we went on to paradise and had a wonderful vacation.
Maybe you feel stuck, frozen in space, not knowing where to turn, but worse than that, maybe your life has actually been turned upside down. Maybe your mortgage is turned upside down and you paid more for your home than its worth today. Maybe your relationships: marriage, relationships with children is turned upside down. It’s not what you thought it would be. There’s a rupture there. Maybe your dreams have turned upside down. Everything you worked for, thought for, planned for isn’t coming out the way you thought it would, and you’re looking at being laid off. Maybe you’ve been laid off. Maybe your job has come to a screeching halt. Your world is turned upside down. Maybe your health is turned upside down and the doctor gave you news to start the new year, the new decade. Not good news and your world is turned upside down. Well what happens if you’re flying upside down. You know our world can be turned upside down, but that doesn’t mean we have to fly upside down. We have the choice how we’re going to respond, how we’re going to react. We don’t have to become depressed, discouraged, fearful, fretting, anxious. Really Sheila? Are you living my life? Well, no but I talk to enough of you to know how hard it is today. But I also know that God is big enough to carry you through whatever you’re going through and that you can even soar through it.
Let’s just look at airplanes for a little bit, and of course I don’t know anything about airplanes. I had to look this up. But did you know that planes were not made to fly upside down? Do you all believe that? Do you believe that you were made to fly upside down? No, just like planes, we were made to fly right side up. But when a plane flies upside down or inverted there’s drag on those wings and if we’re flying upside down, we can become dragged down. It becomes a drag on our spirits, a drag on our motivation. A plane flying upside down has a hard time getting fuel to its tank, and lubricants. You can run out of gas, you can run out of motivation. So you want to stay positive, you want to stay up, you want to let the Lord keep you turned right side up when you’re flying because there is a powerful, wonderful destination awaiting you. Just because your world’s turned upside down, does not mean you will not get there. You have to believe and you will and you can. And then, some of you have crashed and burned. You walked away from the accident. But you’re walking wounded, and to get in a plane again is beyond what you’re willing to do. It’s too scary, it’s too frightening, it’s too hard to imagine.
Well, you know I couldn’t possibly think of doing this message on flying without talking to Danny Cox . Danny Cox and his wife Teddy are members of our congregation and they’re here every single Sunday. Danny was a super sonic air pilot..
DC (Danny Cox): Yes.
SSC (Sheila Schuller Coleman) : ..flew supersonic jets for ten years.
DC: Yes, ten years, yes.
SSC: As a stunt pilot?
DC: Well I did air shows, yes.
DC: Test pilot for maintenance problems and that kind of thing.
SSC: And so we spent some time this week, you were trying to help me, Danny. And you’re also a motivational speaker, which people need to know very, very successful at that.
DC: Thank you.
SSC: But as we were talking what I heard was that this inverted flying is life and death.
DC: Well it is. The airplane I flew was a 1,200 mile an hour airplane, that’s 20 miles per minute.
DC: And when you get that kind of performance, you can also expect a few little problems along the way. One day I was going up through 56,000 feet at a thousand miles an hour, and I was going for 60,000. But this airplane had a real bad problem. It’s called a pitch up. It would literally tumble out of the skies. And they had taught us you know the standard pitch up. I had a non standard pitch up. And instead of going nose over tail, mine was going wing over wing. In other words, it was trying to push me out of the cockpit. And I was really concerned about it and as we started the tumble, I thought where do I go? What do I do? And that’s when you say a little prayer. We called it the test pilot’s prayer. It went like this: Okay God, get this thing on the ground and I’ll taxi it in for You. And what I did, the message came to me: don’t fight the controls. You’re fighting the controls. Neutralize the controls. And I did that, and then I reached up to the handle that deploys the drag shoot out behind, that’s what we normally used on landing, and I deployed the drag shoot, got the air flowing over the airplane again, and I was able to recover after we’d lost 30,000 feet of altitude. Fortunately we started at 56,000.
SSC: And not at 28,000.
DC: Right and I made it back. You know we always said that it’s great if you’ve got the same number of landings as you do take off’s.
DC: And I did. So it worked out fine for us, but that little pause where you don’t know what you’re going to do, but that message comes to you.
SSC: That’s right; pray and ask God and He gave you, and you waited on the Lord.
SSC: You waited on the Lord. And Teddy, you were a young wife with three little girls.
TC: I was, yes.
SSC: And your husband, your first husband was a fighter pilot in Vietnam.
TC: That’s right and he was shot down in Vietnam and I was left with three little girls, ages one, five and six, to raise and I barely got out of bed the first few days after I found out the news, but it was through my earthly father who said you’ve got to get up, you’ve got responsibility’s and then my heavenly father, my God, gave me all the strength I needed, was with me every step of the way, which He promised He would be and still is with me and with Danny and I every step of the way.
SSC: Yes. And God corrected your flight.
SSC: And He brought Danny into your life so God answered your prayers, both of your prayers when it looked like your world’s were turned upside down.
TC: Righted my life yes.
SSC: He righted your life. Well thank you for sharing and being such faithful, faithful congregants.
DC & TC: Thank you.
SSC: Well, what do we do when our world is turned upside down? How do we get our flight turned right side up again? Well let me read to you from Isaiah. “But those who wait for the Lord,” and this is the amplified version, so it says “those who expect, look for and hope in Him shall change and renew their strength and power, they shall lift their wings and mount up close to God as eagles, mount up to the sun. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint or become tired.” Now this doesn’t say that they’re going to flap feverishly, it just says they lift their wings and they soar. But anybody can kind of glide, whether it be human or otherwise, eventually comes down to earth. That’s the whole point is that it’s coming down; it’s descending, descending, descending until it gets to the ground.
But these eagles that Isaiah’s talking about, they soar. And they stay up there. They’re not coming down. And they’re not flapping their wings. They are riding a thermal lift. Well a thermal lift is air that has been warmed by the sun shine, and I like to think spiritually that God gives us a thermal lift when He warms our spirits through His Son-shine, S-O-N, Son-shine. And did you know the thermal lift, when it hits a mountain, it goes up. It goes up. So that means that the larger your mountain, the bigger your challenge, the more likely you are to find a thermal lift. And so if you will just wait on the Lord, pray, and lean into the thermal lift and let God carry you through your upside down times, He will right your flight.
Well you say to me, okay Sheila, I’ve waited. I’ve waited and things have gotten worse. God hasn’t answered that prayer. In fact, I got the diagnosis too late. The doctor says he can’t treat me now. The marriage is done. It’s gone. My husband wouldn’t go to counseling. I asked him to; I prayed that he would go. He wouldn’t go. Now the marriage is done. It’s gone. Done. My dream, my business, I’ve had to declare bankruptcy. The dream is done. It’s too late. It’s too late. Have you had this conversation with God? I asked You God months ago for help and nothing, in fact it’s gotten worse. Why did You wait so long, God? Don’t You love me? Don’t You care? If you’ve had that conversation with God and I believe that there are many of you here, who if you are really honest with me, God knows you’ve had the conversation but you’ve had it, you’re in good company because Mary and Martha who had wonderful relationship, a wonderful relationship with Jesus. They were like sisters to Him. They had a very similar conversation with Jesus. They would cook for Him, they would work for Him, they poured their expensive perfume on His feet, and so when their brother, their beloved brother got sick, they thought Jesus will help. Jesus will save our brother and they sent word to Him. They made sure He knew. Jesus, our brother is sick. We need You to come and make him better. Do you know what Jesus did? He delayed. He did not come when they called Him to.
And so He delayed for two days, and it’s very specific in the bible that He delayed Himself for two days, so by the time He got to Mary and Martha, their brother had died. And when He came and He finally came, Martha goes running out to Him and she says why now? Why didn’t You come when I called? Why did You wait? Now he’s dead. You could have saved him. But You didn’t come in time. Why? When I say wait on the Lord, that means sometimes you’re saying to Him I am going to wait, even knowing Your time is not my time and You just might delay. And you know what Jesus said? He said, “For your sake I wasn’t there so that you may believe.” Can you imagine? Today you’ve said to God, God I need a job. I’ve asked You for a job, now I don’t have money to pay the rent. I’ve asked, You’ve delayed, and He says to you, yes. For your sake I have not given you a job yet. For your sake I haven’t answered your prayer. For your sake, you will face foreclosure so that you will believe. Does that make any sense at all? It does if you know the end of the story.
Because Jesus’ delay was actually an added blessing cause then He says to her, to both Mary and Martha, He said “I am the resurrection and the life. Even though you die, you shall live.” He wanted to show them that He was the resurrection and the life. And as He would demonstrate that for them, they would believe. And so He said Lazarus, come on out. And Lazarus came out.
So people of God I ask you today do you believe? Jesus said I am the resurrection and the life. Do you believe? Your dream has died. But Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Do you believe. Your relationships are ruptured. Maybe that marriage is dead. But Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Do you believe? The doctor has given you a death sentence, but Jesus said I am the resurrection and the life. Do you believe?
Lord God Almighty, even though our life’s been turned upside down, You can right the flight. Even though our life seems hopeless, You will not let us down. You made us to soar. You made us to live victorious and to be a blessing to others, so we wait on You, knowing Your timing is always best. Trusting the delay’s only increase the blessing, so we expect You to be a thermal lift, our resurrection and our life. We believe it. Thank You, Amen.