Yesterday he said that he was going to do some IFR training; would I like to tag along? [A word of explanation; in aviation speak IFR is Instrument Flight Rules; VFR is Visual Flight Rules. When you first train as a pilot, you train for VFR. For VFR you need a clear day - besides your instruments, you fly by visual cues, landmarks, the horizon, etc. You can see. To fly IFR requires additional training. This is flying by your instruments. Of course you use your instruments when flying VFR, but for IFR you are completely dependent upon them and your communication with air traffic control (ATC).] I decided that I could work in a flight that day, so off I went to the airport where he hangars his plane.
My friend is trained and qualified to fly IFR, but is still working on honing his craft; hence the training yesterday. Not long after takeoff, we were in the clouds. The picture to the left is pretty representative of what it looked like in every direction for most of the flight. It's hard to explain just how potentially disorienting this can be. For example we took off towards the west and it was some time before I realized that we had turned around and headed east. Here we were in the clouds headed for 2 other airports before returning and if I hadn't been tracking the flight with an app on my phone, I would have no idea where we were. Following his instruments and direction from ATC based on the flight plan he filed, my friend and the instructor guided the plane to the first airport and as we dropped down out of the clouds, remarkably the runway materialized in front of us. That is a pretty cool experience. We found the 2nd airport as well and then returned to his home airport. Finding that runway was a bit trickier, but they found it and here I am on the ground safe and sound.
So why put that little story on a church blog? Well, it seemed that IFR flight yesterday is a parable for the Christian's journey through this world. It's not a perfect comparison (so just like with a parable, don't press every detail), but we spend a lot of time not knowing exactly where we are or for that matter where we're headed. We read God's Word and seek to follow the principles we find there. We pray and ask for God's guidance. And we go live in the way he has called us to live, trusting him to bring us to the right places at the right times. A lot of time, we're disoriented, can't see what the next step is let alone the next destination. But God faithfully guides and directs us.
There have been times in my life when I wished I could see the whole plan for my life or even just a few years in advance. Where are we headed; what does God have for us? But he's taught me hard lessons by not showing it all to me at once. I want to live by VFR, but God calls me to IFR and that's hard. But it builds my faith. I have to trust that his Word is truly a lamp to my feet and a guide to my path. After all, we're to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Yesterday felt a lot like flying by faith. That's not to say we let go and let God. My friend spent a lot of time yesterday checking his instruments, changing headings, communicating with ATC, changing transmission frequencies, and more (not to mention the complicated work of "simply" flying the plane).
And so we ought to be busy Christians - reading the Word, praying, worshiping, fellowshipping, testifying, living the Christian life, etc. But often it may feel like you're lost in the clouds. Know this. God is guiding your steps to just where he wants you to go. You'll see the runway materialize when you drop out of the clouds and smile, thankful that God knew all along.