You might not know the name Steve Slater, but you’ve probably heard about him. A veteran flight attendant for JetBlue, Slater, on Flight 1052 from Pittsburgh to John F. Kennedy in New York, decided on that August day in 2010 that he finally had enough. After having been chewed out by a passenger whom he chided for jumping up too early to get his luggage, Slater grabbed the airplane’s public address system, railed against the passenger, and then announced that he was quitting. No doubt, that announcement alone must have startled the passengers. But the story doesn’t end here. After picking up a few beverages, Slater grabbed the emergency door lever, pulled it, and down came the rubber exit chute. Shouting, “It’s been great!” the flight attendant jumped on the exit ramp and left the world of flight behind him.
Talk about a great escape!
Some of us, no doubt, have had days like that. We, too, need an escape — a refuge, a place to “check out” for a while. Those who have the time, the money and the means just load up the vehicle and head for the beach, or the mountain retreat, or wherever. But most of us don’t have those options, do we? So, what can we do in order to get a break, to escape, to find some refuge from a world that, at times, seems to have gone amok?
No question, we all need quiet time — time to be alone, to pray, to meditate, to whatever degree possible to get away from the hubbub and stresses of everyday existence. Many find time in the morning, when they first wake up (or they make a conscious effort to create the time), to talk to their Creator, to read the Bible, to meditate on its promises. Sure, it would be nice to be able to get outside, into a morning grove, where the flowers decorate the ground and the chirp of birds welcome you. If you can do that — great!
If not, you can still have wonderful moments alone in the quiet of your home in silent communion with God. He gives us so many promises in His Word, including the promise of peace. The Hebrew word for “peace,” shalom, is rich with connotations of healing, hope, promise and completeness.
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3).
There’s nothing wrong with seeking a bit of refuge from the hassles of the world. As the Bible says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). To pray, to talk to God, to meditate on His Word, to claim His promises, to review His providences, to praise His kindness, to express thankfulness for the good things in your life, and to ask for strength from above to help you through the bad things — any and all of these practices, day by day, can offer you moments of peace, serenity and even escape.
Who, at some point, in the deep recess of prayer, of mediation, of thinking about transcendence, of grace, who hasn’t had a taste of the miraculous, an inkling of something greater than yourself, of a Creator who loves you, who cares for you, and, even if you can’t always express it in words, who you sense is there and who offers you hope? How nice to enter into those quiet places, the deep recesses of the soul where only you and God inhabit. Day by day you can draw near to your Creator and, to some degree, find an escape from the tribulations of this world.
It has been said that prayer doesn’t bring God down to us, but rather draws us up to Him. This is not something anyone can do for you any more than they can sneeze for you. But whether you are alone in your room, or outside amid the wonders of nature — the peace and escape that you seek is not found within you, but in the God who created you, who knows you, who loves you and who offers you refuge in Him now — and then for eternity.
We all struggle here. It just comes with the territory (the territory being the planet Earth). Even Jesus, seeking to calm His worried disciples, said, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Yes, we will have tribulation aplenty in this world. But the God who created and sustains the world is greater than our tribulations in it. Through Him you can have an escape — without needing an airplane emergency exit to find it, either.
Written by Cliff Goldstein