Cockpit Savvy

Cessna-172-Instrument-Panel-300x225It rarely happened, but on the few occasions when I received an early morning phone call asking for Sargent Seymour, I knew something big had transpired.  So when the phone rang very early that morning,  I knew it was going to be an interesting day.

When I confirmed that I was Sargent Seymour, the voice barked out an order: “Make sure you report at 0600 hours. You’re on the search and recovery team, and we have a pilot down.”

I was one of the first to arrive at my duty station, and I watched as the other team members began to file in.  After we were briefed, we were loaded on a bus and driven to the foot of a mountain where jeeps took us far as they could go. We then hiked to the crash site where the wreckage of the aircraft was scattered across a meadow.

I later learned that the cause of the crash was either instrument failure or the pilot had become disoriented.  There are times when a pilot will suffer spatial disorientation and he can’t tell up from down.  He may think he’s pulling the plane out of a dive, but he’s actually flying it into the ground.

Experienced pilots know they must trust their instruments and not just their senses.  The primary flight instruments found in many cockpits include:

  • Airspeed Indicator: Indicates the speed at which the air is flowing over the airplane
  • Attitude Indicator: Shows the position of the airplane in relation to the horizon.
  • Altimeter: Measures the altitude of the aircraft above sea level.
  • Vertical Speed Indicator: Indicates the Rate of Climb and Rate of Descent
  • Heading Indicator: The principal direction instrument used in flight.
  • Turn Coordinator: Gives information about the direction and rate of a turn.

Like an experienced pilot, a person needs to rely on more than just his senses—You also need the principles of God’s Word:

When Paul wrote to Timothy, he highlighted the value and benefit of Scripture:

 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Instead of thinking in terms of the primary flight instruments in a cockpit, think of Scripture as your primary faith instrument.  The Psalmist did, and he said God’s Word can:

  • Show you how to live.
  • Give you understanding
  • Guide your walk.
  • Point you in the correct direction.

O Lord, show me how to live according to Your statutes, and I will keep them always. Grant me understanding so that I can keep Your law and keep it wholeheartedly.

Guide me to walk in the way You commanded because I take joy in it. Turn my head and my heart to Your decrees and not to sinful gain (Psalm 119:33-36).

Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

WK-AV921_COVER__DV_20101110182743One of the more remarkable stories of World War II, was chronicled in Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.  This book by Laura Hillenbrand tells the compelling story of the life of Louis Zamperini.

As I was thinking about the events of this week, I reflected on Zamperini’s life which underwent a dramatic change when Louis’ plane crashed into the Pacific ocean.   As the subtitle of the book says, Louis’ story is one of survival, resilience, and redemption.

  • He survived 47 days afloat on a raft in the Pacific ocean
  • His resilience enabled him to make it through his POW experience
  • He found redemption after his post war life began to crumble and his marriage was about to fail

Over the course of his life, Zamperini experienced several life-changing events.  Perhaps the most important change occurred  when his wife convinced him to attend a revival being conducted by a young evangelist named Billy Graham.

During the sermon, Louis was reminded of a promise he had made while adrift on the raft and about to die of thirst.  Louis had promised od that he would serve heaven forever, if he could only be rescued.

The heart of Louis was stirred when Graham said:  “When people come to the end of their rope and there’s nowhere to turn, they turn to God—no matter who they are.” Louis thought to himself: “I made thousands of promises on the raft and in prison camp. He kept His promises, but I didn’t keep mine.”   Louis went to the prayer room and made a confession of faith in Christ, and said: “While I was still on my knees, I knew my whole life had changed . . . I felt this perfect calm, a peace. The Bible calls it the peace that passes all understanding. I knew then that I was through getting drunk, smoking, and chasing around. I also knew I’d forgiven all my prison guards.”

Louis Zamperini discovered the truth of 2 Corinthians 5:17:  If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”  Through this verse, Louis learned the power of redemption and forgiveness.  He also realized that God was giving him a second chance to keep his promise and to make the most of his life.

Why not give God the chance to change you through a second chance?


Note: Zamperini was 97 when he died in July of this year.