Friday, June 03, 2011

Flashback Friday: Flight of the Navigator

***Originally posted June 10, 2009 after Air France flight 447 crashed into the ocean on its way from Rio to Paris. Reposted as the second black box was found and details begin to emerge. The most chilling detail so far: the plane stalled and literally fell out of the sky in 4 minutes before crashing. 4 minutes. That's a long time to think about your fate.***

"Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous. But to an even greater degree than the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of carelessness, incapacity, or neglect. " -Anonymous
I first read the above quote in one of the many articles I've read on the Air France disaster. Sadly, this event reminds us just how unforgiving flying can be. Yesterday, airlines replaced the speed sensors suspected to have been the cause of the accident even though the "black box" hasn't been found and there's limited information from data sent from the plane prior to its crash. These are experts in aviation however, who have reached this conclusion. So I trust they know what they're talking about.

And I can understand, even relate. Imagine you're the pilot of this plane: you're flying over the ocean, you can't see any landmarks and you're surrounded by blue, above and below. Your sensors then give you conflicting readings of your speed. You're cruising, not climbing, so you don't have a physical sense of how fast you really are going. There's nothing on the ground or on the horizon to relate your speed with. You have no choice but to trust your instruments.

This had to have been extremely difficult for the pilot. I was once handed the controls of a plane and had the pleasure of experiencing aviation beyond the textbook. We were approaching a mountain peak when the guy I was with told me to climb to a certain altitude. I thought the peak was a long ways off, but sure enough, by the time I reached that altitude I could tell the peak was right there. It's very difficult to judge distance, and therefore speed, from the air.

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men." -Martin Luther King
Spiritually, it's also very difficult to judge not only how fast we're going but also where we're going. How do we know we're doing alright with our relationship with God? How do we know we're making the right decision when given choices? How do we know we're honoring God when we seize opportunities and not honoring ourselves? We can't trust our own instruments. If we do, we're likely to crash. "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jer 17:9)

Thank God we don't have to rely on our own navigation. He gives us a guide, a navigator. "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'" (Is 30:21) We can trust the Holy Spirit when our instruments fail. I pray that as many as possible on that flight had a navigator they could trust.

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