Ariport property

October 5, 2011

There is an airport near the home I grew up in, perhaps a half a mile or so away.  We could hear, then see the planes take off.  The southeast runway ran almost parallel to our street, so we could stand in our living room window and watch as the Boing 707 and later the larger 272 and 737 jets cleared the treeline and took to the skies.  Still today the municipal airport (probably now called a regional airport) is too small to handle jumbo jets and the big Airbus extravaganzas, but there were several flights a day, and even the “small” 737s were magnificent to watch, so there was always an adventure just looking out the front window.  (Just as a small aside, to show you how exciting our neighborhood was, summertime excitement included watching a large “grader” level off our street once a year.)

I remember my grandma wondering at the miracle of flight.  We were rural enough that a jet coming or going nearby always caught our attention, and if Grandma was visiting she would say almost the same thing every time.  “I can’t see how it is possible getting something so big into the air.”

Oh, what adventures that airport held.  Watching the flights was just the beginning.  Being only a half a mile from our house, loosely guarded (Why guard a municipal airport for crying out loud?) and protected only by a rusty barb-wire fence with many gaping holes, the “airport property” as we called it, was easily accessible.  It was the closest thing to a criminal enterprise I ever participated in.

The property that the airport occupied had been a combination of farmland, orchards and, well, just empty country space.  When the runways were built the farms were abandoned and a “swimming hole” drainage pond,was added.  So no matter what time of year we sneaked through the rusty fence, there was an adventure waiting.  Grapes, apples, and berries of every variety awaited in season.  The swimming hole provided the thrill of “next year.” I was always afraid to ply it’s murky depths, filled with snakes, snapping turtles and adventures, but there was always next year.

It was my favorite place in the world as a boy, and it was totally illegal, and (just a little bit) dangerous.  We wound never get in trouble at home for crossing the border and venturing into the land of our illegal enterprises.     Only if we ventured onto the runway would we be chased, but never caught.  Not once were we sucked into  a jet engine, or crushed by the huge wheels of a jetliner, or drowned in the swimming hole, or bitten by a “rattler” or snapping turtle.  But the possibility always existed, which made the adventure a bit more fun.  It really was one of the only daring things I ever did in my young life.

It reminds me of what illegal aliens might feel.  The fear and hope wrapped together, the adrenalin of promise and possibility, the death-defying leap into the unknown, with the anticipation, the hope of something better on just the other side of that fence.  Of course I don’t have any real idea of what illegals feel, I can only imagine it, and imagine weakly.  Because I was only a few hundred yards from safety, no one was ever really chasing us, and home was just a few blocks away.  The danger was almost completely imaginary.  For us.

So while illegal aliens might be an appropriate analogy to for a sheltered kid,  a better analogy might be our tiptoeing across the borders of sin.  We sneak undetected (or so we think) into a land fraught with more danger than we can even imagine.  The dangers we avoided as kids were mere shadows of the real hazards, the same is true for our sneaky sins.  We cannot fathom the snares and traps the enemy has waiting for us when we say to ourselves, “No one will notice, no one will care, it’s not hurting anybody, I’ll only do it once.”

I am grateful I was never hurt, or harmed while trespassing onto the airport property.  But it didn’t at the time give me even a glimpse of the consequences of breaking God’s rules.

God’s rules (laws) are there for a reason, and it is not just to keep us from adventures.  They are there to direct our path, and light our way to real, meaningful adventures.  What was on the airport property that was not runways or buildings was of little or no value beyond the adventures they brought young boys.  The real adventure of the airport was getting on a plane and really going someplace.

Don’t let the false adventures offered by sin lure you away from the real adventures offered by God.  He has so much more to offer than the leftover fruit of an abandoned orchard.  He can take us to places we could never imagine.

And we don’t have to sneak in.

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