Sometimes, flying feels too godlike to be attained by man. Sometimes, the world from above seems too beautiful, too wonderful, too distant for human eyes to see …
— Charles A. Lindbergh, The Spirit of St. Louis, 1953
Just setting the scene for how it went down
Looking back on my past and the life that I found
Standing on a playing field, looking up at the sky
Knowing it was imminent, I was gonna die
As the plane flew over, the tremor was real
But not from the engines this shaking I feel
Gut wrenching shaking from deep deep inside
My last vestige of hope had just been denied
Resignation reigning with a tear and a sigh
My life now over, I’m not gonna lie
Hopes and real dreams of a hyper young lad
Wasted away by choices I wish’d id never had
The moment now over, eyes down again
Left foot, right foot, same after same
Over to the doctor’s, collect the meth
My life now covered in the stench of death. By Stuart Patterson
As a young boy growing up in Easterhouse I was always fascinated with satellite images (young people this was way before Google Maps). I longed for the moment I would get to look out an airplane window and see the earth spread out below.
Life and bad choices took over, until at the age of 27 (1997) I found myself on Westwood pitches standing staring up at an airplane flying overhead.
I cried with resignation that I would probably never get to fulfil a childhood dream.
After 13 years of drug abuse and addiction any hope of any sort of life was gone. My greatest need was to get my next heroin fix.
At that moment I gave up and yet…
Only a few months later, through an unbelievable sequence of events I found myself in a place called Teen Challenge. An organisation of men and women full of faith in Jesus and His ability to raise hope and victory where there was only death and defeat.
I gave my life, wrecked as it was to Christ and Teen Challenge taught me how to live life all over again in the light of God’s love for my life.
That began in May 1997.
Fast forward to August 1998, only 18 months after my tears on Westwood, I found myself on a Virgin Atlantic plane to Johannesburg. Along with other men that God had “raised from the dead in addictions” and the incredible John and Anne Macey and Paul Evans our musical director we were on our way to visit Kevin Ward and Teen Challenge in Swaziland. On our way to join with Kevin and his family as they launched the ministry in a small corner of Africa. Through song and share our life stories we were privileged to be allowed to speak in HIV clinics and prisons and schools and churches and on the streets and in shopping malls and basically anywhere and everywhere to anyone else would listen of what great things Christ had done for us and how He longed to do the same for others.
You see in August 1998 God showed me that He also shed a tear that day 18 months before. I couldn’t see then what He could. 13 hours on a Virgin Atlantic flight, my first view looking down on earth was dark o’clock in the morning over the jungles of Africa with the planes light showing a tiny circle at a time. Drifting off to sleep and then waking up to Johannesburg appearing out of the redness of the South African wildernesses.
I wept that day as well as I thanked God for His fulling a wee boys dream in such an incredibly amazing way.
It’s why I always look on with fondness and Kevin and Helen Ward’s updates.
It’s why I still long for the window seat when I fly.
God brought my beautiful Irish rose, Tracy into my life as my wife to guarantee a quota of ground gazing every year.
Earlier this year I even had the privilege of flying a small training plane over my beloved city of Glasgow. Flying around the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and up and over my aunty June’s in Whiteinch. It was incredible to get closer and closer to the actual joy of flying itself.
And yet my boyhood dream is more and more awakening in the reality of my life in Christ. Today, as I consider my Christmas gift of a micro light flight from my beloved, I look forward to an even more intimate encounter with the wonder of flight.
My heart and my gaze is fixed on Christ, hopefully you see enough of Him reflected in and through me that you can dare to believe for your own childhood dreams.
This blog is part of a wider collection to show the journey that would eventually lead me to the cross of Jesus Christ, my personal redemption, and my journey of faith afterwards. If you would like to know more of my story, please click on my “About” page and take it from there.
If you would like to know more about the Christian response to addiction, or just need hope please click on one of the links below.
Teen Challenge Strathclyde
Teen Challenge UK
Teen Challenge Global
Bethany Christian Trust
Cornerstone Assemblies of God, Maryland
Broken Chains Ayr
Easterhouse Community Church