To begin my journey home this past week I arose well before the dawn. After a long day and longer evening performing a wedding and then celebrating with a wonderful family, I was exhausted. But the plane left early. It had to. I needed to be back in time for worship on Sunday morning. And I didn't sleep. I had this nagging fear that I wouldn't hear the alarm, would oversleep, miss my flight, and leave my church scrambling when the pastor didn't show! I just dozed. A few minutes here and there.
And then it was off to the airport at 4 a.m. Why are there people on the roads at 4 a.m.? Regardless, I made it in plenty of time, the plane was ready to go and I found a seat by the window in the 4th row. Since there aren't many pastors heading home early on a Sunday morning, the plane wasn't full. Didn't matter. Someone decided she needed to be near the front of the aircraft and sat in the middle seat. Dread.
But the full row wasn't really a concern. Once situated, the sleep I had been missing came quickly. I was out...for a while. I was out until I did the famous head drop. From comfort to concern all within a few seconds. Every time I would position my head securely against the back of the seat, I would immediately feel my chin hit my chest. Whiplash!
That's when it hit me. Allow me to preface my thought by saying that I usually have a song in my head. Random songs. Much of the time, however, they are faith songs. Songs I hear often and use to keep my spirit close to God's. So maybe it was because of my ongoing battle, but the song I was silently singing said, "Thou, O Lord, are a shield about me. You're my glory. You're the lifter of my head." Really!
Granted, King David never fell asleep on an airplane. He did experience fatigue and exhaustion and stress. When he wrote Psalm 3 he was searching for quietness amidst his troubles. He says his confidence is in the nature of God (metaphorically a shield) and that the Glorious One gives him reason to lift his head. David understood that God continually lifts the heads of his people in victory and therein he found his hope. Our loving and strong God is always with us and always active.
Eventually I let down my tray table, secured my elbows and rested my head in my hands. As I thought about life I began to pray, "Thank you Lord, for being the lifter of my head."