Daniel W.

Daniel W.

from KS
Story #622

I was raised in a Christian home. My father was a minister. My mother was sweet, prayerful, and devoted. But I was a mischievous, sometimes hateful, often disobedient young boy and I could expect severe discipline for my conduct. I was my father’s headache and my mother’s heartache. At the age of twelve, while attending a revival meeting, the Holy Spirit spoke to my evil young heart. I rushed forward carrying a heavy burden of guilt and shame. Broken, contrite, and repentant, I gave my heart to Jesus Christ. I will never forget that night! My burden was lifted, joy filled my being, and my life was forever changed. Bear it be said - my parents, my siblings, and my classmates were all amazed at the effects of Christ’s love and forgiveness in the life and behavioral change of one mean little kid.

I wish I could tell you my walk with God was perfect. It wasn’t and I realize my walk will only become perfect the day I meet my Savior. Nonetheless, I endeavor to walk daily hand in hand with Jesus Christ. I share the following true account with you to illustrate a valuable spiritual lesson I learned during my early years of flying.

In 1976, I was an eager young student pilot with a perception that I was progressing quite well through the required flying curriculum. One of the tasks required planning and navigating a solo cross-country flight - the circuitous route of which would take me a few hundred miles to three distant airports and return to home base.

According to my flight plan, I was to depart my home base in Oklahoma City early one Sunday morning with the first leg of the trip terminating at Pryor, Oklahoma. (Upon my arrival, I would accompany my parents to church before continuing the remainder of the flight.)

I recall how utterly "in-control" I felt as I taxied to the departure end of the runway, performed my run-up, and accelerated for the roll-out. I lifted off, bound for northeastern Oklahoma. Often while enroute, I would check my aeronautical charts to make sure I was where I was supposed to be. I checked the instruments and radios to assure that each was still set and working properly.

Nearly two hours had passed and I became enthralled by the magic of the countryside as it escaped all too swiftly below. I diligently watched for other aircraft and entertained myself by examining and adjusting the equipment. I WAS FLYING AN AIRPLANE!

I suddenly became urgently aware that, according to my flight plan, I should be nearing my destination. I checked my chart. I checked the terrain below. I checked my chart again. I stared at the landscape. Nothing looked familiar anymore, and it certainly didn't fit what I was seeing on the chart. Something was wrong! I had drifted off course! I was lost!

I sensed that this was no longer a solo flight - for Panic had slipped into the seat beside me. I thought of my wife and daughter.....I thought of my parents.....I thought of myself and how careless I had been.....this would probably be my last flight.....I'm going to run out of fuel......I can't find the airport!

I scanned the instrument panel. There must be a way.....I had to remember! The ADF?.....the VOR?…the compass?.....the radio?.....the radio, that's it.....THE RADIO. I quickly dialed in the frequency for Tulsa approach control....

"Tulsa Approach, ah, this is Cherokee…ah… N16547."

(Come on, come on, I'm lost out here.)

"Cherokee N16547, Tulsa Approach."

"Tulsa Approach, ah, this is N16547. Sir, I'm a student pilot and I'm lost somewhere east of Tulsa. I was supposed to go to Pryor Mid-America Airport, but I must've gotten off course. I don't see any familiar landmarks and I don't know which way to turn."

“Cherokee N16547, roger, ident.........”

I activated the plane’s transponder “ident” button.

“Cherokee N16547, radar contact fifteen miles southwest of Pryor.
Ah, …547, we've actually been watching you on radar since you first entered our sector. Turn left zero-one-zero degrees. Pryor Mid-America will be at your twelve o'clock and fifteen miles.”

“Cherokee …547, Roger, left zero-one-zero. Thank you.

“…547, you’re welcome. Good day, Sir.”

Though I was lost and uncertain as to which way to turn, how wonderful it was to communicate with someone who knew precisely where I was and knew exactly where I needed to go from that point. I made the arrival safely.

Spiritually, we may have permitted ourselves to become so preoccupied with worldly concerns or legitimate activities that we have drifted off course. We may find the path we have taken no longer holds familiar landmarks and we don't know which way to turn. TAKE HEART! We have been on God’s radar all along. We simply need to communicate our needs to Him. We will safely make the landing.

Fortunately, that was not my last cross-country flight. I revisited my flying discipline, mastered the aircraft, and obtained a Commercial Pilot license, and Single-Engine, Multi-Engine, and Instrument ratings. I am now seventy-one years of age with a log book containing a history of many flights. A few of them were perfect; most were not. Some were through fair weather. Others took us through storms, icing conditions, and other typical instruments only weather (IMC). I would file a flight plan and I would always maintain a radio frequency that kept me in constant contact with an air space professional, the air traffic controller. He would be familiar with every aspect of my flight. What I accomplished as a pilot during each flight was influenced by my desire to follow the rules, navigate safely, and have faith and confidence in the professional controller’s guidance.

And so it is with Christ. He knows our very being, our hearts, our personalities, our weaknesses, and our strengths. In His Omniscience, He knew when we would begin our journey and He knows our destination and arrival time. Christ is eternally aware of our “flight” characteristics and the “flight” we choose to take. He knows the storms we will face. He knows the hazards that lie ahead. God’s Word yields navigation for the course before us, prayer assures a constant contact for guidance, and the Holy Spirit gives strength for the journey. Our faith in Christ gives us hope of logging a successful “flight” in our spiritual log book.

Daniel M. Williams

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