B52 Cockpit

I have never been a fan of small and narrow spaces. I tend to be a bit claustrophobic. My heart pounds, my hands sweat, and all I can hear in my head is “GET OUT!” Fear of getting trapped overwhelms me. I don’t know why this happens to me, because I have never been trapped before or been traumatized by being in a small space as a child.

Years ago, on a trip to a museum in Chicago with my young kids, we ended up in the military exhibit area and thought it would be fun to experience the fighter jet simulator, so I bought tickets for each of us. The kids went first and then it was my turn. I climbed into the very small, enclosed area that resembled a cockpit and the museum worker began to strap me in tight. As he stood in the doorway, between me and the freedom of outside, my heart began to race and the voice in my head began shouting. I did not hear any of the instructions the young man was giving me, I was just staring, longing to be on the other side of that doorway. He touched my arm and said, “ma’am, are you okay?” My eyes shifted to his and the concern written on his face. With a weak and embarrassed smile, I responded, “Yeah, I can’t do this.” With a gentle nod, he unbuckled me and helped me to slide out. I was totally embarrassed! I was ashamed of letting this fear get the best of me.

I still struggle with this issue today and I admit there are times when God asks me to narrow my shoulders and enter into a place where I have to make myself small. It is usually difficult for me and that old fear is quick to surface. When following Jesus, the path is narrow and yes, sometimes it’s difficult to travel, but the joys and the treasures we find as we squeeze our way through are amazing and abundant. It would be so much easier taking a wider path and Jesus knows that, but he encourages us and strengthens us so that we can confidently follow where he leads. Too many times I have let this fear of small, narrow places keep me from enjoying some of life’s adventures; giving up before reaching the joy of the experience. I have begun to learn though, that when I find myself facing this difficulty, Jesus is right there holding out his hand and when I choose to grip it; holding fast to it, he leads me through. When it became hard and I wanted to give in, he gently touched my arm to regain my attention. He gently reminds me that he is in the cockpit with me and with him by my side, there is nothing to fear.

Where is God asking you to enter that is narrow and difficult today? Jesus is holding out his hand; grab it tightly and take the first step.

Matthew 7:13-14 (CEV)- “Go in through the narrow gate. The gate to destruction is wide, and the road that leads there is easy to follow. A lot of people go through that gate. But the gate to life is very narrow. The road that leads there is so hard to follow that only a few people find it.”

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