Today, I post new friend, Jen Neimann’s, guest blog. Jen Niemann is a Jesus lover, wife, and mom to two young adults, and lives in Chagrin Falls, Ohio with her husband and Jazzy the cat. A former RN and caregiver, she enjoys dabbling in writing, gardening, worship dance, and being active in her church’s Women’s Ministry.
“Ladies and gentleman, we have turned the seat belt sign off, but please stay buckled while seated. We have about an hour and half flight into Cleveland this evening, should be there right on schedule.”
I heard the pilot’s voice vaguely as we settled less anxiously into our seats. After a somewhat rocky takeoff, with the plane bouncing and twisting to and fro through some stormy clouds and wind shears, the airplane was now unusually quiet. No babies crying, people coughing, or stewardesses asking about snacks just yet. The lights were lowered to match the descending twilight.
I was musing over the wonderful writing conference which I had just attended for four days in Pensacola. I came out of it exhausted but thrilled, having thoroughly enjoyed making new friends and acquaintances in my first real post-pandemic event. I was especially excited about having made a wonderful new friend and writing partner from Pensacola, a desire that God had laid on my heart a few months earlier. I sat thankful for how God had worked all those details out. The plane’s engines droned away, and I felt cocooned in a sleepy peace after the frenetic pace of the past weekend.
After a bit, I glanced up and to the left out of the plane windows. There, all along the row of windows, were the beginnings of a glorious sunset, blue sky turning to pinks and yellows all along the horizon as far as you could see. We were above the dark gray cloud bank that had brought some sprinkles on my layover in Charlotte, and the sunset I was viewing was perfectly sandwiched between the solid layer of clouds below us and some thin wispy dark ones above. I watched in adoration at the splendor unfolding from God, the Creator and Maker of all things.
Suddenly it occurred to me that He creates a sunset every night like this whether we can see it from our spot on the earth or not! I was enthralled with that thought and felt wrapped up in His peace, love, and presence. I continued to watch the beautiful colors deepen into indigo, ruby, and tangerine.
‘Insulated’, I thought. I am insulated up here from time and space, and up off the earth. Just a beautiful moment between God and I, insulated for the moment from the rest of the world with all its wars and traumas.
I thought back over the past two weeks, how the news of the war in Ukraine had affected us, how watching the unbelievable images on TV every night felt like knives twisting in our hearts. Images of families torn apart, mothers and children sheltering below ground in subway tunnels in the freezing weather, children clutching stuffed animals, crying. Apartment buildings destroyed for no reason. Pregnant mothers and babies at risk, having been wounded from bombings. Watching those images brought me to tears every night.
It had been a blessed relief to have been so wrapped up in our writing conference events that I hadn’t seen any of the nightly news at all. Indeed, my husband had declared right before I left home that he was completely done watching the news. He felt disturbed and helpless, and since he couldn’t fix it, he wanted to ignore it. Should I adopt that same attitude as well? Was it better for my mental health to remain insulated from the awful atrocities of a fallen world at war?
I didn’t know. But I thought about Jesus, and how he could have kept Himself insulated from our deeply divided and sinful earth. Instead, He stepped down out of heaven and made himself nothing, a man yet God, come down to serve and to enter into our fray. He touched the sick lepers, dealt with demons; he entered rooms of death, he crashed funeral processions, and ate with the sinners and those that needed spiritual healing. And he taught us to love one another.
Indeed, Jesus chose NOT to remain insulated from our earth with all of its problems. He entered into our world, in order to help us to see what God is really like. Shouldn’t I try to emulate that as well? Not hide myself away just to keep my life happy and peaceful, but to watch and then pray and help where I can?
All I know is that when I do keep myself in the know by watching the news, seeing those images spurs me on to pray –pray more frequently and pray more fervently. And so I choose to continue to watch in moderation, so I can remain connected to the rest of humanity, and because I know it will incite me to prayer and to help as I can.
No, I don’t think I can remain insulated, as tempting as it might be. But I will certainly recall the image in my memory–of the peace of that beautiful sunset that happens above the clouds every night, as a way to refocus my eyes on Him when the going gets too difficult down here.