I boarded that plane with an honest prayer: “God show me what it would look like to really trust you with my whole life.” I grabbed the first open window seat and buckled my seat belt. I was less than 12 hours out from a four-day hospitalization, traveling from Islip, New York to Jackson, Mississippi to preach at my best friend’s youth conference. My doctor had reluctantly approved of my outing, only after receiving four units of blood, two units of synthetic iron, and two rounds of IV antibiotics. My Crohn’s Disease was leaving me tragically anemic in those days, and my recent flare-up meant that I was still not eating solid food. My body was still aching with every step. The large bones in my legs were starting to break down from osteonecrosis—brought on by a combination of long-term steroid treatment and lack of blood supply. My life was nothing like I had imagined it to be a decade before, and my prayer was a result of freshly exposed areas in my heart.
I was alone in the seat row. So as the plane took off from a cold, rainy McArthur Airport, I spread out—pulled my Bible and iPad out of my backpack and started to work the finishing touches on my weekend’s messages. I was still praying my prayer, keeping one eye out the plane window for my sign from God. That was when I first noticed it—a single raindrop on the outside corner of the window pane. We were only three or four minutes in the air, but I found it strange that the drop was still there—hanging on. Several times I attempted to return to my work, but I was drawn back to watching the raindrop. I pressed my face up against the window for a scientific examination—I had to make sure it was really on the outside of the pane. It was. How could it still be there with all of the wind and speed and pressure? Soon we were high above the clouds, traveling at top speeds, but the tenacious drop of water continued to grip to my little airplane window. It refused to let go. I grabbed my iPad and starting taking pictures of this little miracle moisture as its shape changed under intense pressure.
The first part of my trip was this 70-minute flight into Baltimore-Washington International. I watched that obstinate bead of water every minute until the flight was over. And it never came off. Not in the jolts of the Northeast winter wind. Not in the turbulence of descent. Not even in the force of the landing. It was still there—all of it—but it had changed drastically. The plump, round droplet had become a slim, flat streak of water stretched out lean across the window face. As the plane came to a stop, I took a final picture of my victorious passenger—reflecting the morning sun in unique new ways. I wanted to celebrate—throw a party for this mighty piece of rain. It was just then that I remembered the prayer that had started my day only an hour before: “What would it look like to really trust you with my whole life, God?” And my celebration shifted. Tears began to well up. I knew I had my answer: “This. This is what it will look like. You will be changed. You will be stretched.” I knew I was being stretched. And I knew then that I wanted to cling to Him more than ever as the stretching unfolded.
We often think that the result of that kind of surrendered life will be easy, but the life fully flung to the cross of Christ will have one certainty in this life—it will be stretched. It will look different. It will be changed. But it will endure. And it will be beautiful.