THE FINAL FLIGHT
Passenger Log / Star Date A week before Christmas 2022
Worry not dear readers, I am not announcing boarding for my final flight nor have I been given the date and time and what launch pad to report to for that flight! This is a reflection on that flight and how in today’s very real sense we can best live our lives each day fully, joyously, not worrying about when that final flight is scheduled. I used to think it was possible to live in such a way as long as we had no idea when that date would be, because ignorance is bliss they say! Technically, even now that I’ve been told this disease is going to overtake me and likely within a certain parameter of years…I could still step in front of a SARTA bus and die too.
Only God knows my death date but still there is something about feeling each breath and knowing how much harder it is to breathe now than a couple of months ago. The O2 hanging around my neck and stuck in my nose whose hose nearly chokes me anytime my dog Gunner steps on it while I’m walking across the room is a regular reminder. The stack of medicine bottles and the even bigger stack of medical bills are regular reminders.
I presumed that knowing I have a disease that will eventually draw my eyes closed permanently would cause me to be closer to God, to seek His face more and be even better prepared to meet my Savior. Shouldn’t this make my love for Him grow deeper and more intense? I do know one thing, what may be true for one person experiencing this is not necessarily true for any others experiencing it. The adage of not judging a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes means not only sharing something similar to that man but to walk in his shoes. His way of coping, his struggles with the anxiety are his alone, no one else comes to the situation in exactly the same way in which he does. If that doesn’t work, you can always follow Billy Connolly’s version of the old poem.
Are there typical responses like the stages of grief that are talked about? Certainly. But those are general responses. There are too many idiosyncrasies in each life, too many variables that cannot all be included in those stages or patterns. Each person walks their own path. Hopefully they walk it supported by loved ones who care and pray and help in any way they can and hopefully each person has a faith to which they can cling when there is nothing else at hand. But… what if…
What if the man in his grief contemplates reasons to push God, his family, and supporters away thinking he is causing too much hurt. Maybe by being absent will somehow lessen their pain? I’ve learned that simply exacerbates it. And then there is faith. What about the idea of such a disease bringing someone closer than ever to God? I am thankful that God is a God who does not let go. Paul wrote the most amazing statement about God and his comfort. This is from Romans 8:38-39
 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The key here is that if none of those things can separate us from God’s love than neither can we. We cannot run far enough away or hide. Listen to the words of the Psalmist. This is from Psalm 139.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
I shared with a dear pastor friend of mine my dilemma and concern that I was not close to God as I would like to be. He wrote me back a short note. “Your not walking away. God has plans. Every day. Every step. Every breath. He’s with you all the way.”
So that’s enough of listening to the Eeyore side of things, what about the joy and the living life to the fullest in the midst of adversity? To that, obviously, we turn to the one, the only, Tigger. To really understand life from Tigger’s standpoint we have to get inside his head. Developed by A. A. Milne, the characters in the Winnie the Pooh stories are full of their own joys and laughter and even hypochondria, depression, fears and just plain nonsense Some, like Owl, are just full of themselves. But what would Tigger tell us about living life whether you have a terrible disease or not? Here’s another quote
As brilliant as our Heavenly Father is, all knowing, all understanding yet He condensed all of life into two simple commands. “Love the Lord you God will all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind.” And “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love God, Love Each other. And finally, allow me to be, not irreverent but knowing that God created comedy and laughter, imagine this picture of Tigger is actually God speaking directly to YOU! …
Thanks to Alan Alexander Milne for choosing to write Winnie the Pooh out of the sheer joy of watching his son play with his toys and inventing voices for each of them and for making available a few of his quotes.
Do not despair whether it be my life that concerns you or your own. God is still in charge and let’s face it… He’s got this!
Whenever the final Voyage take flight for me may it be said, “Though he had many faults, he did his very best to be his very best and to give others the very best. He loved God. He loved his family first.” Or… to use a M*A*S*H quote (you knew it had been too long and there had to be one coming…) In one episode Hawkeye is mistakenly declared dead by the Army so the camp decides they should have a wake. The voice on the PA announces that all are invited to the wake… “The deceased will deliver the eulogy. There will be 20 minutes for rebuttals.”
Finally, remember simply this from Micah 6:8 ‘O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?’
To quote Gus Portokalos (Michael Constantine My Big Fat Greek Wedding) “There you go.”