A Slice Of Life To Go is an online Christian blog written by Todd Thompson. It encourages people to see the beauty in ordinary moments and to know God’s unconditional, unfailing love in everyday life.

Of Control Freaks And Helicopter Rides

March 20th, 2002

We’re almost through the first quarter of 2002. How’s your year going? Is everything unfolding according to your plans? Or have unexpected events caused you to make adjustments?

During the first week of 1996 Sara and I were in Iowa visiting my family. One afternoon I sat looking out the window at the snow while blue jays and squirrels feasted on the shelled corn scattered for them around the base of a green ash tree. My Day Timer in hand, I looked ahead to the next twelve months. I scheduled. I made plans. Full of purpose and determined resolve that accompanies a new year, I confidently assumed my plans would be executed without a hitch.

On January 4th my Dad came home at 8:30 in the evening from playing basketball with friends, a weekly event for him. He complained of chest pains and we called 911. Minutes later he was in an ambulance on his way to the hospital in Estherville. There the ER doctor confirmed he was having a serious heart attack and ordered immediate transfer to the cardiac unit in Sioux Falls.

I had always thought my first helicopter ride would be over a volcano in Maui or an up close look at Mt. Rushmore. Instead it was in the early morning hours of a sub-zero Iowa night, riding along with my Dad in the Care Flight. Up in the air the view through the bubble was almost surreal as the blanket of snow reflected the moonlight. All was quiet in the Iowa countryside; the farms and acreages dotted with yard lights and swirls of chimney smoke. They were all sleeping, these people below, while we flew through their sky. I wished I could be down there instead of up here. Yet on they slept just as they should while on we flew.

This is not on my list, I thought. Classes and meetings and schedules, they’re all written down. This isn’t part of my plan. My Day Timer is full of “This I Will Do”, not “I Will Be Helpless”. But helpless I am. I can do nothing but ride along and wonder and silently stare at the luminous gauges. The pilot knows what they mean. I haven’t a clue. When I glance over at him, it’s obvious he’s in control of this trip.

The next couple days were a maze of hospital hallways, waiting rooms, phone calls, and conversations with my Dad in the cardiac intensive care unit. Scary as it was, it wasn’t. I realized that all along we had been saying what needed to be said. That we love each other. That we care about each other as a family. And most important, that we’re secure in our relationship to Christ. Thankfully, my Dad recovered, though there are never any guarantees.

Less than a week into the New Year, my Day Timer was all messed up and it bugged me. In the helicopter that night I figured out why. I’m a control freak. And this was an event beyond my control. You’re a control freak, too. We all are. We control when we wake up by setting an alarm clock. We control the temperature of the water in our shower. We control our music with the turn of a radio dial. We decide how brown our toast will be, what color tie we wear, the climate of our house, the speed of our car, the direction of our career and, as much as humanly possible, how many children we’ll have. We’re all control freaks.

Life being what it is, before this year is over you might be thrown into circumstances beyond your control. It may have already happened during the first three months of 2002. It may mess up your plans in a major way. You may find yourself staring at the gauges without a clue. If so, remember the Pilot knows what they mean and He’s in control of the trip. Whether your helicopter flight is a joy ride or an urgent emergency, you can trust God to fly you through.

“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans for good and not for evil, to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call on Me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek me and find me when you seek with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:11-13