“Watch your altitude,” “get that needle back to the bulls eye.” I have been learning to fly with the goal of becoming a missionary pilot, and have obtained my private pilot certificate. Now I just obtianed my instrument rating, so now I can fly through the clouds, and those were just a couple of the words I heard from my instructor when I first started working on my instrument rating.
The first time I went up with the instrument instructor we did some basic flight maneuvers with the hood on. The “hood” is a view limiting device, basically, goggles painted over then the lower third or forth cut out, so you can't look outside and have to look at your instruments. As we flew the maneuvers we talked about the dangers of flying in weather where you can’t see outside references. He told me to close my eyes and fly what I thought felt straight and level, and in less than 45 seconds, when I thought I was flying almost level, he told me to look at my instruments. I was nose down descending at 800-1000 feet per minuet, and in a 45-55 degree right bank, and picking up speed. Chop the throttle, level wings, and pull the nose up, back to safe level flight. They say if someone enters a cloud and does not fly by their instruments, it takes an average of about 30 seconds before they are out of control, and less than 138 seconds before they are a smoking hole in the ground. That made me think, in a world where there seems to be no truth, or all truth is “relative,” what, or how do I make my decisions? Do I make them on how I feel? Or do I go to God’s word, the ultimate source of truth. The Psalmist says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” If I make my choices on how I feel, my life is going to turn into a wreck. I had to look at and study the instruments to regain control of the airplane. How can I make decisions based on truth if I’m not reading and studying God’s word?
I remember on one flight with my instructor I took off, put on the hood, then made a long 180 degree bank to the right, got to my heading and leveled off. All of a sudden I felt like I was in a left bank, looked at my instruments and they said I was flying level, but I was sure I was in a shallow bank to the left. What do I believe? The instruments... or my feelings? Remember the parable of the wise and foolish builder? They both heard truth, one applied it, and the other did not. So what happens when I know what God‘s word says, but my feelings tell me something else? I must make my decision on what God’s word says. Knowledge without application is foolishness.
My instructor often tells me, “It’s not the single task that makes instrument flying so hard, but the many different tasks.” Power, pitch, bank, trim, tuning the com radios, tuning the nav radios, flaps, mixture, on and on. One time I forgot that I was supposed to descend at a certain place while doing an approach. I ended up coming in too high. I messed up the approach, because of one detail. See, flying straight and level is not that hard, but how would I know where I was... where I want to go... and how to get there? That's where the radio instruments and charts come in, another task. To fly in cloudy weather you have to use them, and well. Radio instruments need to be tuned to a certain station set up a certain way to do specific tasks. God wants a relationship with us. He has specific tasks for us, which we will only discover by having a relationship with Him. This means spending time not only in his word, but in prayer.
My instructor is always telling me, “Keep your eyes moving... always be scanning all the instruments... don't let your eyes spend too much time in one place or on one task.” 2Tim 3:16 says, “All scripture is profitable.” I have my favorite scriptures, books of the Bible, etc. I also have certain areas in my life I prefer to work on than others, they are easier. However, just like flying on instruments, we need to make sure we read and apply all of God’s word. So despite the uncertainty of fog and the trying storms of life, we can go through life with confidence in Christ.