Just before takeoff, the pilot warned us to expect a bumpy ride. Some bad weather had recently moved through the area and our flight path would have us following the storm system. Few of us were prepared for the ride that followed.
I’m not normally a nervous flyer, but this flight left me clinging to the armrests with a vice grip. For a good 45 minutes the plane pitched and shook, bounced and dipped. The flight attendants stayed in their seats, except for two occasions when they had to make their way to passengers who had become sick from the turbulence. Oh, I tried to appear calm as I squeezed out some occasional words in a poor attempt at conversation with my seatmate. But I was flat out scared.
And then a strange thing happened. I don’t know if I was just worn out from resisting the ride or what, but I let go of the armrests, folded my arms across my chest, and sank deep into my seat. Instead of bracing myself for the next wave of convulsions, I allowed myself to move in rhythm with the movements of the plane. Not only did the proper blood flow return to my fingertips, but I found myself less fearful as well.
When Jesus told people to follow him, he never guaranteed a smooth ride. He told them only that he had bigger plans for them than the ones they could imagine. One thing would be required, though—that they fully trust him, come what may. His early followers seemed to sense that the adventure of a lifetime lay ahead.
I first answered Jesus’ call to “follow me” in 1989 when I placed my faith in him. My wife’s and my decision in 2005 to have me step down from a well-paying corporate job to write and teach about biblical money management full-time was also in response to that call. As was our decision to have me join the staff of SMI in 2012, which entailed uprooting our family from Chicago and moving to Louisville.
I have found the life of faith to be an adventurous, bouncy ride. There have been times of clearly sensing God’s pleasure—when it seems that a workshop or an article have made a difference in someone’s life—and also times when I let doubt, discouragement, and fear creep in. Understanding what it means to fully trust God seems to be an ongoing process.
Are you facing some financial decisions or circumstances that are making your world turbulent? Have you read one too many articles speculating about a market pullback? Are you grabbing the armrests a little too tightly?
It’s natural to look for quick answers, to want the turbulence to end. When it comes to investing, there are practical steps that can be taken, such as opting for a strategy specifically designed for risk-averse investors or taking a blended strategy approach.
But there’s an important spiritual dimension here as well. As counterintuitive as it may feel, the best advice for uncertain times may be to loosen your grip. The Bible tells us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). As I’m learning more and more each year, letting go and trusting are important parts of what it means to answer Jesus’ call to “follow me.”
What have you found most helpful for dealing with times of fear or uncertainty?