Last night, after the kids had been put to bed and the house was settled, I went outside to enjoy the quiet. The city lights diminish the ability to see most of the stars; however, we can see lights of the planes as they fly overhead. Our house lies beneath the flight path of our international airport. As the commercial airliners thundered overhead, I reminisced about a friend of mine, Ken Shoop.
Ken was a mentor of mine. I met Ken when he was a retired missionary living in his hometown of Hammond, Oregon. He would encourage me as I learned what it meant to pastor a congregation. Ken had spent many years working in Papua New Guinea. It was front line work for the Gospel. He and his team would hire bush pilots to fly them over the jungle so they could discover villages. After they identified the location of a village, they would set out on foot and take the message of forgiveness and hope to the tribal people.
As I watched the powerful commercial planes, I thought of the prop planes my friend chartered. I imagined what it would have been like for those primitive tribes to see a plane for the first time. What were these “magical birds” that could carry people and supplies? I can only imagine the anxiety and fear the villagers experienced as civilization continued to stretch across the world. Their world was changing – rapidly.
In some ways I’m not sure we are much different from the tribal people of Papua New Guinea who had never seen a plane. We live in a society of information overload and in our hyper-modern world it’s difficult to comprehend everything that is happening. At times it feels like the ground is being stolen from underneath your feet. Earthquakes and hurricanes, COVID-19 and variants, celebrity lives and worldly politics dominate the headlines.
It’s more than that, everyone’s lives are running thin. Depression and anxiety are climbing while the sense of self worth is in decline. Many have lost a sense of purpose and it has manifested itself in outbursts of rage on unsuspecting people. Fear is being sold and purchased. Fear has paralyzed the lives of the masses.
The tribal peoples of Papua New Guinea saw their world changing. Our world is changing also. Too quickly for many.
As I gazed at the planes overhead and contrasted them with the prop planes the bush pilots fly I felt a deep sense of comfort. As much as things feel like they are different, they are the same. The urgency of the Gospel is still supreme. People deeply need Jesus. And, although the light pollution makes it difficult to see the stars, they are still there proclaiming the majesty and brilliance of the creator God. You just have to look a little bit harder.
I want to encourage you, if you feel as though you have lost your footing, take courage. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8, ESV)
He will see you through.