God Is

Day 17

No Solo Flights

Read your Bible: Psalm 139:7–17

Spotlight Verse:

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?Psalm 139:7

Impossibly green banana tree leaves, deep red tropical flowers, and the dense, vine-like branches of a banyan tree frame the narrow road as my wife and I drive to the nearly hidden grave of Charles Lindbergh.

In his life Lindbergh had traveled all over the globe, achieving rock-star like fame in an era before rock stars. Millions admired him for making the first solo nonstop airplane flight across the Atlantic in May 1927.

Yet he spent his last few winters in the tiny town of Kipahulu on the jungle-like east coast of Maui, Hawaii, far from the throngs of fans that greeted him everywhere else.

His only public appearances? Every Sunday, he and his wife went to the tiny local church.

In mid-August, 1974, Lindbergh was told by doctors back in New York that his cancer-ravaged body was near death. They urged him to stay there in the hospital, but he told them, “I would rather live one day in Maui than one month in New York.”

So back to Maui he went, where he immediately began sketching precise designs for his grave. He decided it would not include a word about any of his achievements.

Only his name. And Psalm 139:9 — “If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea…”

Lindbergh died just days after his arrival back in Maui, and his gravestone was engraved precisely as he designed.

As Laurie and I stand at the grave and drop a hibiscus flower onto Lindbergh’s headstone, I wonder if he left just that one verse on his headstone as an invitation for curious visitors to find out for themselves how the quote ends.

Because the next words from Psalm 139 are:

…even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

King David, the author of the Psalm 139, seems stunned by this realization.

This was a totally new idea for religions of David’s era, about 1000 B.C. People then thought of their gods as limited by space and time: There was the god of the sky, the god of the sea, the god of the underworld. They had bodies, and they could only be in one place at a time.

But through divine revelation David understands this is not true of God. He is the God of all those places, and all of God is always in all of them.

There When You Were Formed

Maybe the hardest verses for you to believe for yourself are the ones about God’s presence with David even in his mother’s womb.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous — how well I know it.
Psalm 139:13–14 (NLT)

Christian counselor David Seamands writes about a woman named Betty. Her parents felt forced to wed because her mother was pregnant with her. It was an undesired marriage and Betty was an undesired child. When Betty was three and a half, her father left.

She carried the sense of being an unwanted accident with her for her entire life. Then one day at the end of a counseling session Dr. Seamands gave her some homework.

He said, “I want you to imagine the very moment of your conception, the instant that cell from your mother was fertilized by that cell from your father. As you think about that, ask yourself one question: Where was God at that moment?

When they met a week later, Betty told him that at first she thought the whole assignment was crazy. But about the third day, when she really began concentrating on it, she began to cry. And she wrote down this prayer in her journal:

O God, my heart leaps with the thought that you, my loving father, have never forsaken me. You were there when I was conceived in earthly lust. You looked upon me with a father’s love even then. You were thinking of me in my mother’s womb, molding me…

You were there when my mother gave birth to me, standing in the vacant place of my father. You were there when I cried the bitter tears of a child whose father has abandoned her. You were holding me in your gentle arms all the while, rocking me gently in your soothing love.

Oh, why did I not know of your presence? God, my dear, dear Father, my heart had turned to frost, but the light of your love is beginning to warm it.37

God’s metaphysical presence was made manifest presence for her in retrospect, as the Holy Spirit helped her think back on that time in her life.

It goes for you too.

Anything you went through in your life? God was there.

Anything you’re going through now? He’s there too.

Anything you will go through? God will be there.

Omnipresence means God was with you in your past, and it means He will be with you in the future.

After his solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, reporters asked Lindbergh how he handled that all alone. He answered, “Is he alone who has courage on his right hand and faith on his left hand?”38

While he left no explanation for his gravestone, I imagine that while Lindbergh was preparing for his final great solo flight, he was reminding himself of that very truth, thinking something like: “It’s ok. God was with me on those flights, God is with me now, God will go through my final journey with me, and God will be waiting for me on the other side.”

My own father experienced this. When he was dying of cancer, his last words were:

“It’s like a dream… God is all around me.”

And then he died.

Lindbergh. My dad. They learned: You never really fly solo.

As you go through your day today, remind yourself:

God is… with me, and will be with me, always.

Questions For Reflection

What intrigues or impacts you about Psalm 139:7–17?

These verses speak of God’s presence in various places and times in life. Which of these images has the most impact to you right now? Why?

How could it change someone’s attitudes and emotions to really believe God will be present with them through death?