I hop onto my dad’s workshop counter amidst a meticulously organized mess of tools, spare airplane parts, and a few stray bolts and screws. I mindlessly swipe a nail out from under my leg I inadvertently sat on.
You never really get too old to watch your dad work, bare feet swinging off the counter, nose filling with co-mingling scents of oil, earth, cement, wood shavings, and musty reject furniture that had found their new place in the red hangar. It smelled like home. It smelled like security. It smelled like the place I knew I could always find my dad.
“Time for dinner?” He asked.
“Uh-huh,” I replied, legs still dangling off the counter as I watched him installing a piece of the wing frame. It didn’t matter that I had grown up around planes. Didn’t matter that my dad had been a pilot longer than I had been alive. Didn’t matter I had seen him build tree houses, real houses, and screw countless Barbie heads back on after I accidentally decapitated them… I still couldn’t comprehend how he had the knowledge to put an airplane together. It was beyond my ability to understand, even as I watched him methodically screwing and fitting pieces into place, year after year, plane after plane.
The builder. The designer. The fixer. The engineer. My dad.
“Hey bug, can you hand me that part next to you?” He asked without looking up.
Dutifully, I carried the oddly shaped piece and placed it in his hand. He took it and began working it into the frame. Looking at the half-built airplane, I had no idea what the part’s function was, but I was sure it was important, despite its seeming uselessness in my own hands.
“What’s it do?” I asked after a moment.
“It’s an aileron. It’s a part of the wing; it helps the airplane turn.”
“So it’s a pretty important piece,” I said, filling in the gaps.
“Well, without it the airplane would have a pretty difficult time rerouting course,” he responded. “Wanna hold it in place for me while I screw it in?”
I nodded and hopped off my perch, though the thought of being entrusted with putting together a piece as crucial as one responsible for flight control made me slightly nervous. Despite being a pilot’s daughter and granddaughter I knew almost nothing about how a plane actually, well, flew.
I held the piece steady overhead while my dad stood above me, working quickly and efficiently. When it was done, I took a step back and grinned. I had helped build an airplane. An honest-to-God gravity defying machine.
Later that night, I sat on my grandma’s floral patio swing that now graced my parents’ back porch. It was twilight and the lightning bugs were starting to rise from their daily slumber. I heard a plane pass overhead, and though I couldn’t see it, I knew it was up there somewhere, flying just fine.
Someday soon that’ll be our plane, I thought, excitement building. Well, more dad’s plane than my plane. If the mechanic work was left solely to me there’s no way it would ever get off the ground.
Realization crashed into me, causing me to lean forward in my seat.
How had I never seen it before?
I envisioned myself waltzing into the hangar and shoving my dad out from in front of his careful building project with the announcement that I would be taking over from now on. I no longer trusted him to build the plane the way I thought it should be built. He clearly needed my input at every step. He obviously required my guidance and micromanagement… despite not knowing a single thing about aeronautics and what it requires to get a plane in the air. Yes, he was the expert. Yes, he had the knowledge. But I still probably knew how to improve the plane. Make it better, more aerodynamic, faster, prettier. If he would just let me dictate all the important details, I would still talk to him on occasion. He could still stand there. I would probably even ask for his advice, though I wouldn’t take it if it wasn’t what I wanted to hear.
I would never force my dad, an experienced mechanic and engineer, out from in front of his project, so why do I do this to God on a daily basis?
God who sees all the details. God who created all things. God who has the blueprints and the plans. God who understands what part must go where to get my life into flight. God who knows that in my hands the aileron is useless, but in His it finds its purpose.
And yet time and time again, I shove Him out. I grasp the hunks of metal that mean nothing to me and chuck them away, deeming them unnecessary.
I don’t want to learn that lesson. I don’t trust You to cut that piece correctly. What if You don’t finish that on my timeline? Can’t it just be what I want it to be yet? This isn’t fun. It doesn’t even look like an airplane. It’ll never fly. God do you even know what you’re doing? Because it looks like nonsense to me right now…
I concentrate on the parts of the plane, the parts of my life, that seem exciting and necessary. I don’t want to work on the tedious bits; I just want to fly already. I don’t want to learn how to use the saw. I don’t want to hold still while God screws in the aileron and I must carefully and quietly hold it into place. Yes, I’m getting to help Him- to have partnership with God- but it’s not good enough. I want to be in control. I want to say what we do next, when we fly, and where we go.
Except that… if I live my life this way, this way of wresting and shoving out my Mechanic… my plane will never see flight. Even if it gets off the ground it would only be bound for disaster. Without the ailerons attached properly, the plane cannot navigate safely around storms, it cannot navigate at all.
I would never try to replace an expert mechanic, claiming my insight superior. So why do I try to replace God in my life?
I do not have the knowledge or the understanding required to create flight, but my Father does. I can hardly even use a table saw or tell the difference between screwdrivers, but my Father can. And He is available to me always and wants to take the lead. What’s more, He is willing to show me what He is doing, to instruct and teach me if I will have patience and listen to Him. Even if I don’t understand every concept (and I won’t), I can have faith that flight is in my future. He knows what He is doing. He has a design perfected if I will only accept it and trust Him. Letting Him control the project is a matter of my own life and death.
The builder. The designer. The fixer. The engineer. My Dad.
I get to be a part of my Dad’s work. But it’s my Dad’s work. Giving Him control is the only way it will ever come to fruition, to its true purpose as a gravity-defying machine.