Flying – by the seat of your pants

Rev. Ross L. Riggs, D Min.   RIGGS MINISTRY MINUTE: When there’s only a minute for ministry  7 August 2012

When my son, Daniel, was still in preschool, during the short time we had between dropping off his sister at the elementary school and his class, he always wanted to go out to this small “airport” to see the planes. It didn’t matter that the planes were tiny private planes, sitting just off of a grass runway. It didn’t even matter to him if it were the middle of winter and snow covered everything. He just was happy to be among the airplanes. A few years later a friend and neighbor took him up in his private airplane and Daniel was literally swept up into the heavens in that small plane. A couple of summers ago, Daniel attended a Baptist camp and missionaries there from Missionary Aviation Fellowship took students up into the clouds to learn the basics of flying.  Daniel was immediately in his element and took to the air like a duck takes to water. As he began to consider serving his country in the U.S. Army, his long-range plans involved becoming a warrant officer and flying military helicopters. He is in the military now and still working his plan to someday fly. It is taking a great deal of fore-thought and planning. Classes he took at school, the way in which he maintained his grades and now, the specialty that he has chosen to keep him closer to his dream are all part of his preparation and planning.

As Daniel was flying high above the Baptist Ranch, where other ‘campers’ were all around the grounds involved in various activities, his instructors would have him climb high and then stall the engine, allowing the plane to drop in the air until they would restart the engine and again climb into the sky. It was a controlled way to know how the plane felt when it lost power, that it could ‘glide’ for a time’ because of the way the plane was designed. It was aerodynamically sound in the structure of the plane and was designed to fly. I believe that Daniel was created by God to be aerodynamic in his own inner-self; that God has designed him to fly. The result of that shows when Daniel does get behind the joy stick, he makes it look so easy. It is as natural to him as when he was swimming in competitions. It looked so effortless, yet I knew all of the training and preparation that went into his being able to swim so smoothly and naturally. I watched as he flew that small plane with confidence and joy as a sixteen year old teen. Observers might think that a veteran pilot was there behind that stick. The way in which Daniel slipped into that pilots seat, donned those headphones, cleared with the tower and slipped up into the sky; another person might have thought he was flying ‘by the seat of his pants’ when, in reality, he had been preparing for that time his entire life.

My daughter made the analogy just recently about the first place runners we were watching in the Olympics. They and the other top contenders made it look so smooth and effortless while those in the back of the pack were struggling to stay on their feet. Sometimes, perhaps, when someone seems to perform a task so smoothly and confidently, we might be quick to think they put little effort into the task that they too, are flying by the seat of their pants. More likely than not, God has been preparing them for quite a while and they have dedicated themselves to the task in which they take so much joy. Like a duck that seems to glide effortlessly across a pond, when in reality, under the water, out of sight two little webbed feet are flapping as fast as they can just to keep up!

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