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Air Force One

Recently, I watched a documentary on Air Force One, the President’s airplane. I was impressed by how much thought and care goes into preparing and caring for the vehicle that carries this important man as he fulfills the diplomatic duties of his office. I was equally inspired by the evident pride that the Air Force One crew takes in anticipating and meeting the President’s every need. For instance, they have all of his favorite snacks on hand and available in every room of the aircraft and turn down his and the First Lady’s beds at night, leaving mints on their pillows. They even go so far as to shop under cover for the groceries that are used in preparing all of the meals that the President will eat while on foreign soil to protect him from contaminated food.

I understand why they do these things and appreciate the fact that they do, but I don’t see why it is necessary for the airplane to be waxed by hand. It takes five or six experienced, decorated military pilots hours to buff the 1700 plus square feet of airplane before each flight. Why? So it can be shiny? Who’s going to see it before it gets all gunked up again from the flight? Birds? Bugs? The ones that get close enough won’t live to tell anyway, so why bother?

And, did you know that there are actually two equally equipped airplanes at the President’s disposal at all times? If anything unforeseen happens to one of the airplanes, the other stands at the ready to enable the President to carry out his plans safely without missing a beat. However, I was surprised to find out that neither of the two customized airplanes is actually named Air Force One.

Apparently, any airplane that the President boards becomes Air Force One the very moment that he steps on board, whether it’s a shabby old stand-in used in an emergency when there’s nothing else available or one that has been endlessly customized and meticulously simonized. His presence alone changes an airplane’s identity and gives it worth. I was still wondering why they don’t just use a power washer on the airplanes and be done with it when I witnessed one such moment.

President Bush and Laura Bush were boarding one of the planes to embark on a diplomatic mission to Africa. From the belly of the plane that would become Air Force One, a woman with a headset waited and watched via security camera as the President and First Lady waved goodbye to the media and stepped into the airplane. Smiling, the woman took a deep breath, sat up a little straighter, and announced to the crew with authority, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we have the President. We are now Air Force One.”

I don’t know if it was the slight quaver in the woman’s voice or the emphasis that she placed on the word “now” that got me, but her announcement gave me chills from head to toe. Suddenly, I understood why experienced and decorated military pilots would take the time to wax an airplane by hand.

From time to time, I get discouraged in my walk with God. I want to please the Father so much, but it seems like all I ever do is make mistakes, big ones. Sometimes I mess up within moments of stepping away from a great Bible study and prayer time with Him, and I wonder whether I’ve made any ground at all. Am I any more like Christ than I was yesterday? Last week? Last year? Why does He even bother with me?

Because I am His. Sure, there are people who have got it all over me in spiritual maturity, giftedness, looks, intelligence, and a hundred other things, but that really doesn’t matter. Whether or not my wax job is shinier than anyone else’s and whether or not I’ve gotten all of the details ironed out, I have worth, not a worth that comes from myself, but a worth that comes from my relationship to God.

When I was just a little girl, I asked Jesus to step into my heart, wipe away my sin, and take control of my life, and He did. In that moment, my identity changed forever. I became a daughter of the King of Kings. So now, even when I feel like a shabby stand-in airplane, unable in and of myself to live out my calling or to do anything of significance at all, I keep working at it. I find peace in knowing that I have the Father and His presence alone makes my life something very special.

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