Living by an Airport

As referenced in past posts, I currently live by an airport.  Three thoughts about this.

The first one is that I don’t just live by an airport but directly in one of its two take-off routes such that half of all flights each day fly right over my home.

My hi-rise home… meaning the airplanes, those huge hunks of steel and fuel, come RIGHT AT my window and then climb just enough to barely clear my building.

For a variety of reasons, for the past twenty years I have regularly kept the unbelievable events and lessons of 9/11 near the front of my mind, and always at least in the back of it.  I’ve actually upheld that famous slogan, “We will never forget.”

I haven’t.

One reason is that while I – like all 330 million Americans and billions worldwide – was glued to the TV that unforgettable day, I watched in knee-jerk horror and pain yes for ALL of the victims of that morning and afternoon but none more so than when, that evening, the news channel scrolled – slowly  scrolled – the name of my very best friend throughout my entire childhood and into high school and in a very real way ever since.

His family and he moved from the East Coast to California after his freshman year and he continued to excel in everything – academics, sports, being involved at church, dating (girls adored  him, not unlike Tom Cruise or Val Kilmer at the time) – so it came as exactly ZERO surprise that he ended up getting into the U.S. Air Force Academy (not an easy feat as I’m sure many of you know to just get into that place, much less excel).

I had lost touch with him in the fifteen years that followed but when I saw his name slowly march its way up my television screen as being one of the people killed at the Pentagon on 9/11, well, I immediately made the connection, it totally fit that he would be at the Pentagon.

First name, middle initial, last name… I made the connection intellectually but emotionally  it was as though Babe Ruth had come back from the dead for a nanosecond and hit me.  With a sledgehammer.

I had never experienced emotional pain like that in my life.  And in my  life.  I.e., something of such a massive scale which directly and dramatically affected me.

I say nanosecond because after my eyes, moving left to right, saw his name, they ended up on his age.  54… NOT A MATCH!  Not even CLOSE!  WAY OFF!!!  I was so thrilled, so glad, so grateful.  Never before, never since, and almost certainly never again had I, have I, nor will I hit extreme sorrow and extreme joy in the same split-second.

There are several other reasons that “day of infamy” (and heroism!  Todd Beamer and group, among many others) has always stayed, never strayed too far from my mind, but that was the biggest, most personal one by far.

Ergo, today as I watch airplane after airplane flying RIGHT AT my window in the first few seconds of takeoff before climbing just enough  in the next  few, I can relate to what those people at the Pentagon and especially the World Trade Towers experienced just before impact.  (I can fully relate to their anticipation, definitely not to their horror.)

(It brings me back to week-before-last’s post about 2 Peter 3:3-7, i.e., I can also relate to or, more accurately put, understand  why the end-times mockers will just assume that the end will keep on “missing”, that it will permanently be delayed, never happen, since that’s how it’s always been, since that’s what’s always happened so far.  I.e., those taking-off, low-climbing, fast-approaching airplanes have never hit my building and I’m sure they never will.  The difference of course is that my assumption, my projection of the past onto the future will almost certainly prove to be right, while theirs will definitely prove to be wrong.)

The second thought about living right by an airport is this:  God is SO great that what He creates is able to create.  Even His creation is able to create all sorts of things, like airplanes and space rockets and microwave ovens and smartphones and pyramids.

The third thought about living right by an airport occurred to me again just yesterday.

I was out on one of my 2-4 each week several-hour walks/jogs (mainly the former 🙂 ) and part of my route was right along the river across from my building and the airport so while walking one gets the added, bonus benefit of the never-gets-old-or-boring sight of watching plane after plane approaching as they land.  They fly right over the pedestrians’ heads, engines roaring mightily as they slowly decelerate as that particular flight is about to conclude.  They’re so low, it’s as though you can reach out your hand and touch the airplanes.

It’s quite an exhilarating experience and sight and sound but also wondrous:  how on earth can the massive combined weight of all those passengers and luggage and cargo and especially the metal, my goodness, all that metal stay afloat even as the speed decreases?  How is it possible that the planes don’t just fall straight down onto the land or river thirty feet below?  Intellectually I know why, I understand the physics of speed and thrust and wings and flaps and that good stuff from high school science classes.  But it’s still hard to completely “wrap my mind around” exactly how  the physics are able  to actually work.

I think that’s how it is for all of us when it comes to God’s sovereignty and man’s free will.

I KNOW that BOTH are totally true, fully in effect at all times.  Yet not a single person born of mother and father has ever been able to explain the synthesis of those two seemingly diametrically-different concepts… to oneself  much less others.

And yet I’m not 51% or 75% or even 99% certain about both truths, I’m 100% sure.

But how can only those who have been “called” and “chosen of God” (Jude 1; Colossians 3:12; among many others) be saved, get into heaven?  How does THAT mesh with man’s “free will”?

This is the essence of faith:  like how a huge, heavy airplane can remain afloat even while slowing down, we might not be able to fully explain exactly how the seemingly competing facts mesh and gel, but we know that they absolutely do.

Three thoughts from a guy who lives and walks right by an airport.


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