Sunday, December 4, 2011

Flying by the Instrument Panel

I am privileged to know a man named Roald. Roald plays the violin in our worship band, but he is also a pilot (and a former pilot with the South African Air Force).  Every week for sound check Roald plays "Guess-This-Piece-of-Classical-Music".  Every week Roald is bursting with enthusiasm, encouragement and a heart of gratitude. Roald is also the oldest guy on our team, so we appreciate his wisdom and experience, and very much look up to him.

Today Roald told me the most amazing story. He said that when he was learning to fly, they would put a black cloth over his head that snapped onto the dashboard of the cockpit so that he could not see out of any windows; he could only see his instrument panel.  This was to teach him to rely on his instrument readings and make decisions based upon those readings rather than his own perceptions of what he saw.  I asked him, "But can't the instruments be wrong?  Isn't what you see more accurate?" Here is his reply:

"No. If your aeroplane is tilted to the side even 5% and the air is bumpy, pretty soon your ear and your brain will tell you that you are flying level.  When it comes time to make a turn, you will turn too sharply and the aeroplane will fly in tighter and tighter circles until it nosedives to the ground and crashes."  I said, "Just from a 5% tilt?"  He replied, "Even less than that. That's why you can't rely on your perceptions.  You have to trust the instruments."

I could come up with a hundred applications for this, as could you, but the one that stands out to me most prominently is this:

How often do we become disorientated because we are looking at our circumstances and letting them guide our decisions rather than looking to God Who knows all, sees all, and promises to help us?  How often do we put our trust in ourselves rather than in Him, thinking our own perception of reality to be more accurate?  What would it look like if we could only see Him, trust Him, read Him?  What if we always weighed our limited perceptions against the readings of the Divine "instrument panel"?

I can't help but think we'd avoid a few nosedives.

1 comment:

Elisabeth said...

Oh, dang, Annie! I don't believe words would be able to express at this moment how much this needed to be said to me. And exactly in the way in which you worded it. My spirit, my soul, needed to hear this right now, today. Thank you for writing it. This very blog and the truth in it may very well shape some large decisions I am currently making. And I am very greatful for that!