God is not a craps dealer.

I’m alive! My plane did not crash. I know…I’m surprised, too…

When our plane was still over the gulf of Mexico, a steward keyed the mic and said, “Ladies and Gentleman, we’ve decided to land on the water. Hahaha…” He said that. I’m not even kidding. Now, maybe you think that’s just hil-AR-ious, but I think it’s very nearly the single most horrible thing a flight attendant can say. On the scale of things-you-never-want-to-hear-over-the-PA-on-a-plane (with 1 being “Ladies and Gentleman we’re out of Diet Coke.” and 10 being “Kaboom!”) it ranks lower than “We’re all going to die!”, and higher than “Ma’am, we’ll need to charge you for an extra seat because your butt is so incredibly large”.

My heart was already pounding because of the turbulence. Ok, and also because I had convinced myself that I smelled burning plastic, like wires, or something. But no one else seemed concerned that some very important part of the plane was obviously on fire, so I kept my mouth shut. And besides, I’m pretty sure that if you jump up on your seat and scream “Do you smell that?!?! We’re going down!!!”, they take your kids away as soon as you exit the aircraft. And, the thing is, I had already canceled Christmas (because my kids got into a slap-fight when one tried to (gasp!) look out the other’s window), and I knew I couldn’t make good on that threat from an 8×10 prison cell, so I had to hold it together. (*Note to kids* Slap-fighting on a plane is really bad idea, but slap fighting on a plane when one kid has the aisle and one kid has the window and Mom is in the middle WILL cause the immediate cancellation of Christmas.) So, basically, the stewards little joke came at a really bad time for me. Don’t get me wrong, I have a sense of humor! I can joke about, like…anything. I make fun of babies. So I’m down with the well timed, off-humor, inappropriate joke. Bring it on. I can take it.

But, do not make a joke about the plane that I am hurtling through the sky in. Just don’t. It’s not funny.

One of the things I notice about myself (and my faith, I guess) when I fly, is that even after so many years of learning who God is, and our two roles in this world, when it comes down to it, some part of me still wants to believe that God is like a giant used car salesman. That, rather than live like God has a plan – and that it is good and trustworthy – I live like God is ready to negotiate, change the plan, swap my ending with someone elses, if I make the right offer. You know what I mean? Like every sweaty heartbeat on that plane was an episode of “Let’s Make-a-Deal!”:

God? If I survive this, I’m totally gonna pray more. I’ll even crack open the Bible…if you want.

Um, hey God? If we live, I’m gonna read to my kids every night. Maybe even from the Bible. So, whaddaya say…? Just look at thier innocent faces. Please let these cherubs survive. Oh, and forgive them for that slap-fight thingy. They didn’t mean it.

Look, God, I know I haven’t always done right by you. I haven’t always done the most “pleasing” stuff, but I can do better. I just know it. Gimme one more shot. You won’t regret it!

It’s sad isn’t it? How easily I fall into the simplicity of my own humanity. As if any possible scenario that I could come up with could be better than whatever God has in store for me. If I’ve learned anything from the life that He has provided me, it is that I seriously suck at imagination. I mean, I live in a little house tucked into the coffee and bananas growing at the bottom of a freakin’ volcano in ever-lovin’ Costa Rica! Costa Rica!! My kids are bilingual. My dogs are bilingual. My full-time job is to share faith, hope and love. Like, that’s what I’m supposed to do with my day. And, yet, when I start to get the feeling that my path isn’t headed in the direction I’d like, when it feels like I’m not in control, I immediately turn into a Law-and-Order lawyer (that hot blond one, please) offering God a plea-bargain for a better future. I know. Dumb. I’m slow like that…

Okay, so now I have a problem. See, remember all those “if I live” promises I made? Well…I lived. And so far, I haven’t really made good on my end of any of those bargains. If God were in the business of making deals, I would be so screwed. But, lucky for me, He’s not. Or I would have negotiated myself into a very safe, very comfortable, very boring life. And I would have missed out on this scary, thrilling, adventure, with bi-lingual kids and dogs and everything! In that sense, I would have written myself, and my family, into a tragedy. A life without depending on Him, without looking for Him all the time, maybe even without seeing Him, knowing Him, needing Him….

But here I am, taking a break from this unusual extraordinary life that God has dreamed up for me, to spend the holidays stateside with family. And, God? If I survive this….



  1. Missionaries in La Ceiba, Honduras on December 20, 2009 at 10:42 am

    so…is that flight attendant fired? I think they would have arrested me for wanting to tackle her! I'm with you on flying – cool on the outside (for my kids sake), but a nervous fool on the inside. I think I would have started crying once I realized she was "kidding" – THEN I would have been mad and would have been looking for the best defensive tackle that the 49ers would be wanting to hire me on!

  2. Kirk on December 20, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Slap fights??? Only GIRLS slap fight…just sayin'… 🙂

  3. Susan Mentink on December 21, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    Jamie, Jamie, Jamie!

  4. Dad on December 22, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    Gotta agree with Kirk. With my brothers, it was a back fist or a purple titty twister. I need to spend more time with those "cherubs" to toughen them up.

    As far as promises to God, they don't work because there's nobody at the other end of the phone. That's why God and I parted company in Vietnam. No answers. Not even a "screw you, you're on your own." Just a void. I'm glad you believe because it makes life easier to have a clear set of life guidelines.

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