Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. – James 1:22
“Where is it?” I muttered to myself.
I glanced down at my aeronautical charts, trying to confirm my location. I quickly looked up and scanned the hills for any sign of my checkpoint.
Unfortunately for me, at 3,000 ft, the hills of SE Ohio lay slumbering in the hazy July sun; obscuring some of the fine details on the ground, including my checkpoint.
I was on my third solo cross-country flight as a student pilot. Don’t let the term “cross-country” fool you – I wasn’t flying New York to California – it just had to be a flight of 50 miles or more.
I was flying under visual flight rules (VFR), meaning I had to have weather that was good enough to see my preplanned checkpoints on the ground. Each point leading to my destination; which today was a small airport 30 miles east of Columbus, Ohio.
According to the law, I technically had the weather to fly VFR, but the deep summer haze continued to mock me from afar. God’s creation didn’t care about the technicalities of the law, written by men. The subtleties of weather can comply with the law, yet wreck havoc on an inexperienced pilot navigating home.
“Common…” I whispered, “I should of seen something 5 minutes ago.”
Prior to departure, I plotted out each checkpoint on my aeronautical charts. I planned the heading and time between each point, being careful to ensure accurate numbers for the entire flight. I had a good plan, now I had to fly it.
I turned the plane 360°, hoping I would see something, but the hazy hills stared back, revealing nothing. My checkpoint hiding somewhere within the valleys.
My palms slid easily across the controls as sweat moistened everything I touched; worry slowly bubbled within my mind. I’ve never been lost in the sky. You’d think that seeing everything from this vantage would be easy, but as any flyer will tell you, it’s a completely different perspective.
“Ok… let’s drop lower and see if we can find a water tower.” I muttered.
I pulled the power back and started a slow descent towards the nearest town within view. If I could get low enough to see a local water tower, I could read the town name painted on the side. I’d at least know where I was. Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that they don’t paint on water towers in SE Ohio!
It was getting late, and being a student pilot, my nerves were beginning to get the best of me. I just wanted to get on the ground!
“I can do this.” I said. “All I need to do is think this through.” Worst case, radio Air Traffic Control and ask for assistance; however, before doing that, focus on other options. In hindsight, I should’ve called Air Traffic Control, but my inexperience stopped me from making the call.
I looked at my instruments and scolded myself, “Use your instruments!”
Inexperience again coming back to haunt me. I quickly tuned in the VOR (navigation aid) near my home airport and followed it to my destination.
I could of saved myself a lot of heartache and time (which was costing me since I was renting an airplane) if I would’ve used my instruments to navigate in the first place. These instruments are like God’s word, they’re both available to guide us home.
When flying my airplane, I was abiding by the law. I was legally flying under VFR, but I was still lost. The law is there to keep me safe, but it didn’t show me the way home. I was still lost!
The law is good. It is our moral guardrail; it shows us how to live; but, it always comes up short. The haze of the world will obscure our way home.
If we place our trust in God’s navigation; his written word; and his son Jesus Christ, then we’ll find our way home. Put faith to work and trust that Jesus knows best.