Free to Fly: James Wessel


James Wessel


James Wessel is a Huntsville native who graduated from Randolph and then UAH with a Business Degree. He is the Founder and President of Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus, and has been there since 2001.  James is married to Liz Wessel and they have five precious daughters. The Wessels are active members at Rivertree Church. James’s hobbies include being a volunteer firefighter/EMT and he loves spending time with his family.

Free to Fly

“Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” (Jonah 2:8)

Being made new in Christ happens through the identification of our worthless idols and exchanging them for the grace of Christ. Throughout my life I have clung to many worthless idols. I probably still have a few that I have not completely let go, and maybe some that I have not yet identified as being what they are. But also through the course of my years on the earth and yet even today as I write this, I am being made new by the exchange of those worthless idols for the full measure of the grace that could be mine. So what are our worthless idols?

One of the worthless idols that I am well known for is my fear of flying. To avoid confronting that fear, I simply drove everywhere. I felt like by not flying on airplanes, I could create my own sense of control and security. In my mind, it worked. Year after year and mile after mile I drove. There were inconveniences and some embarrassment but my worthless idol gave me what I thought I needed. They are deceptive that way, right? If worthless idols would admit they were worthless, it would be easier to get rid of them.

Only against the truth does the worthlessness come clear. And that truth was spoken to me by dear friends and missionaries from Germany while on a visit to Huntsville. They felt the Spirit lead them to confront my fear of flying with the truth that living in fear is living in conflict with the Scriptures. That was a hard truth for me to hear. My fears and subsequent idols were deeply rooted and established in fear (compared with being deeply rooted and established in love, Ephesians 3:17) My friends and my wife anointed me with oil and prayed over me. They asked God to heal me.

In August of 2008, clutching my Bible, I left my worthless idols on the tarmac and boarded a plane. You will never understand how difficult that was for me. Psalm 34:4 says “I sought the Lord and he answered me, he delivered me from all my fears.” But I hope you can understand the measure of God’s grace, and what that exchange has meant to my life since 2008. Through God’s grace, I have flown hundreds of times, all over the United States and even to China to adopt a child. The stories I could tell you. I met a lady on a plane who went to the Church my parents attended and specifically remembered the first day that I was brought to Church as an infant. I sat next to a Heisman trophy winner and gave him a Bible and talked about faith. I struggled to find the courage to share with a really tough guy seated next to me and then a steward appeared from nowhere and handed me a Delta napkin with a verse written on it. The tough guy asked me what it was, and I said “a Bible verse.” He asked me to read it to him, and it was the perfect verse I needed to share with him. It seems like almost every trip has brought God ordained encounters that have strengthened my faith and hopefully that of others. I wish I had space to share them all.

You see, there was a whole world of grace that is making things new and I was clinging to my worthless idols of security, absence of fear, and control. Today there are few things that I love as much as being on an airplane. I love everything about it. I feel closest to God when I fly and I see more miracles it seems. No wonder the enemy gave me worthless idols to cling to.

Ask God what worthless idols you are clinging to right now, and how they are causing you to forfeit the grace that could be yours. Idols of fear, greed, lust, whatever. Idols that are of no worth, and keep us from the things that are of worth, the things that have the ability to make all things new. I praise God for making me new. If God can make me a frequent flyer, He can do anything. May the God of all things bring you a newness of life today.



  1. Marilyn Calvert June 12, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    James, this just made my day – what a blessing to read this and hear how our Lord has worked in your life. Praise Him for His continued work with us – we all need this. Love the picture of your wife and babies. I have great memories of your mom’s work at Randolph during the years I worked there. Have a few “memories of you and your friends!!! Marilyn Calvet

  2. Beverly crowder June 13, 2015 at 12:48 am


  3. Joe D. Acker June 13, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    I am Angelo’s great uncle. He has told me about your kindness. Now I see why! God bless you and yours.

  4. Mary Lou Walker June 15, 2015 at 7:43 am

    James, I was your 4th grade teacher at Jones Valley Elem. Many conferences with Jean! I am so thankful for how the Lord is using you for His glory. Would love to catch up on you after all these years. In His love, Mary Lou Walker


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