The following is an abbreviated recount of a flight attendant’s story of the severe air turbulence on a flight from New York to Dallas, Texas.

The plane  was at its cruising altitude. She was pushing the serving cart distributing refreshments  to the passengers. The captain turned on the “fasten the seat belt” sign. She headed back to her station when suddenly she stated, “It felt like we were hit from the top of the fuselage with the hand of God. I’m talking about a 1,000 ft/second drop. All I could do was grip the cart. My legs rose above my head and the cart came off the floor. Overhead bins popped open, baggage went everywhere, and everyone was screaming. The turbulence went on for about 6 seconds and then quit. It was smooth sailing again.”

Turbulence is a common phenomenon in aviation, and it is caused by disturbances in the atmosphere. It can be defined as the irregular movement of air that can cause an aircraft to experience sudden and unexpected changes in altitude, speed, and direction.

There is a parallel in air turbulence effecting airplanes and spiritual turbulence effecting Christian disciples. When we initially become believers immersed in water and committed followers of the Lord Jesus, we feel we are flying high with joy, peace, and renewed hope. We are cruising in the smooth air of freedom from sins and a jet stream of a guilt-free conscious before God.

But as the apostle Paul tells us, our Christian journey will not always be a smooth ride. There will be times of severe turbulence. Why? Because the spiritual realm in which we travel is also filled with dark and evil spiritual forces. The spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places. They are the turbulence that disturb your flight of discipleship. They are the powerful evil currents that hit your spiritual fuselage to upset it and knock it off course.

Conflicts and problems seem to come out of nowhere. They arise from people or from circumstances that you may never have encountered before. These “air turbulences” may well be the satanic forces of evil at work in your life. Satan’s influences and our weakness of the flesh or our evil reactionary responses often create a “turbulent flight” as we travel through this life towards our eternal spiritual destination with God.

How do we handle these periods of “spiritual air turbulence”? First, its important to recognize that they will occur. Don’t deceive yourself to think that you will not be attacked by Satan, who uses other humans, circumstances, or your own personal weaknesses.

Second, knowing these things will occur, prepare yourself with the knowledge of God’s word, ground yourself in the doctrinal truths of Scripture, pray continually to not be lead into temptations, pray for the spiritual strength to endure the “bumpy ride” when it comes.

Thirdly, surround yourself with the protectiveness of the other believers. Stay attached to the church and her fellowships and assemblies. Traveling alone on your spiritual journey is inviting devilish attacks. And if you have no fellow believers to encourage you, its so easy to become lost and confused by the turbulence and then to crash and to burn.

Spiritual turbulence is inevitable, but you can ride it out and overcome it. God is greater than the turbulences of the devil. Dear friends, fasten your seat belt! The flight to our heavenly home will be bumpy! — Tom