A Wild Ride

Just before takeoff, the pilot warned us to expect a bumpy ride. Some bad weather had recently moved through the area and our flight path would have us following the storm system. Few of us were prepared for the ride that followed.

I’m not normally a nervous flyer, but this flight left me clinging to the armrests with a vice grip. For a good 45 minutes the plane pitched and shook, bounced and dipped. The flight attendants stayed in their seats, except for two occasions when they had to make their way to passengers who had become sick from the turbulence. Oh, I tried to appear calm as I squeezed out some occasional words in a poor attempt at conversation with my seatmate. But I was flat out scared.

And then a strange thing happened. I don’t know if I was just worn out from resisting the ride or what, but I let go of the armrests, folded my arms across my chest, and sank deep into my seat. Instead of bracing myself for the next wave of convulsions, I allowed myself to move in rhythm with the movements of the plane. Not only did the proper blood flow return to my fingertips, but I found myself less fearful as well.

When Jesus told people to follow him, he never guaranteed a smooth ride. He told them only that he had bigger plans for them than the ones they could imagine. One thing would be required, though—that they fully trust him, come what may. His early followers seemed to sense that the adventure of a lifetime lay ahead.

I first answered Jesus’ call to “follow me” in 1989 when I placed my faith in him. My wife’s and my decision in 2005 to have me step down from a well-paying corporate job to write and teach about biblical money management full-time was also in response to that call. As was our decision to accept an invitation to join the staff of Sound Mind Investing and move to Louisville in 2012.

It’s been an adventurous, bouncy ride. There have been times of clearly sensing God’s pleasure—when it seems that a workshop or an article made a difference in someone’s life—and also times of doubt, discouragement, and fear. I’m learning more each year what it means to fully trust God.

Are you facing some financial decisions or circumstances that are making your world turbulent? Are you grabbing on tight, trying to find your way through the storm with sheer willpower? It’s natural to want quick answers, to try to smooth out the bumps. As counterintuitive as it may feel, try loosening your grip.

The Bible tells us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). As I’m continuing to learn, letting go and trusting are important parts of what it means to answer Jesus’ call to “follow me.”

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16 Responses to A Wild Ride

  1. Barb April 17, 2018 at 11:52 PM #

    I really needed to hear this tonight Matt. Thank you!

    • Matt Bell April 18, 2018 at 10:07 PM #

      Glad it helped, Barb. Thanks for letting me know.

  2. Dick April 17, 2018 at 9:42 PM #

    Matt, i’m just glad you made that first tough decision and that we had that period of time to be on the ride together. Blessings, my friend. Dick.

    • Matt Bell April 17, 2018 at 10:19 PM #

      Dick – I have such good and vivid memories of those Good $ense days. I’m so thankful!

  3. Jose April 17, 2018 at 8:54 PM #

    Heart Penetrating! Thanks for the article.

    • Matt Bell April 18, 2018 at 10:08 PM #

      You’re welcome, Jose. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Troy Bombardia @ Bull Market April 17, 2018 at 8:43 PM #

    I had a 48 hour flight earlier this year in January (2 connecting stops, an 8 hour layover). Honestly I felt like I died.

    • Matt Bell April 18, 2018 at 10:15 PM #

      Doesn’t sound too scary, but it does sound painful. 🙂

  5. Steveark April 17, 2018 at 7:04 PM #

    I have had four emergency landings(loss of cabin pressure, loss of all engines, complete hydraulic system loss, and who knows what blew up on the fourth one, but it was loud!) where all the response trucks lined the runway in case we crashed and one flight far worse where the little commuter plane flipped sideways in a storm cell and fell hundreds of feet from an already low altitude of maybe 1500 feet but managed to recover and land safely. It is truly terrifying, but none of those episodes lasted very long, not long enough to see if I would be able to rest in my faith the way you did. I never got past the adrenaline fight or flight mode. I’d like to think I’d have reacted like you did given time, I don’t know. My first impulse was to fight against the threat, which of course strapped into a passenger seat doesn’t really do much good.
    It got to where no one in the company wanted to book the same flight I was on, I understand Jonah now!

    • Matt Bell April 18, 2018 at 10:13 PM #

      Oh, man. I think I’d want to avoid flying with you as well! I’ve been on one flight that had an emergency landing and that was plenty.

      It’s very natural to “fight against the threat” in the moment. But it sounds like you’ve gained some good perspective as you’ve reflected on those experiences. And I’m sure you must be grateful for God’s hand of protection. Safe travels!

  6. Michelle April 17, 2018 at 4:42 PM #

    Thanks Matt! A timely reminder for our family. We’re getting a little older, worries with older kids and grands. Wondering if what we’ve lived by and budgeted will see us through. The future looks good by God’s grace! Michelle from Near Memphis

    • Matt Bell April 17, 2018 at 9:22 PM #

      Glad it was timely, Michelle. There’s always something to worry about, isn’t there? I’m a pro at that! I’m so thankful for God’s invitation to cast our cares on him.

  7. Aaron April 17, 2018 at 1:16 PM #

    There’s nothing that can renew my faith in Jesus like a bumpy and terrifying airplane ride!

    Really like this analogy of submitting to His will. Life w/ Him is not an easy road – but I think we can make it more difficult the more we fight it (and always insist on “my way”).

    • Matt Bell April 17, 2018 at 6:03 PM #

      So true, Aaron. And so applicable to so many situations—the fighting it, the insisting on “my way.”

  8. Mark S. April 17, 2018 at 11:36 AM #

    Wow, powerful blog today. And so pertinent to where I’m at as far as trusting my next steps in this house purchase and relocation. I know God is trustworthy and I just need to loosen my grip on the armrests (my expectations) and allow His will for me to emerge. Thanks for the inspiring message!

    • Matt Bell April 17, 2018 at 5:53 PM #

      Glad to hear it resonated with you, Mark.

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