Fly the Plane

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I have been fascinated since my earliest memory by airplanes, helicopters, rockets, and all other sorts of flying contraptions. I love seeing them in flight or on the ground, reading to learn more about them, and watching programs that allow me to fly along from the comfort of my couch. Recently, my good buddy Tommy allowed me to fly with him in the front seat of his Cessna 172, and I cannot wait until I get invited to do it again. I have a first cousin who flew combat missions in the Army’s most advanced bird—the Apache—during recent hostilities in Iraq. His son currently pilots the E-2 Hawkeye for the Navy. While serving at the Meridian church of Christ in Meridian, Mississippi, I was blessed to know several brothers who were Naval Aviators and Air Force Pilots. They flew aircraft ranging from the F-14 Tomcat to the KC-135 Tanker. The skill and courage required to operate and execute their assigned missions are remarkable, and they have my respect and appreciation.

Recently, during a visit with a retired Air Force Brigadier General, he reminded me of something he told me more than a decade ago about the first rule pilots are taught. It is the same rule that continues to be impressed upon them no matter how much skill or experience they acquire. You want to know what the rule is, don’t you? Here it is: FLY THE PLANE!

That’s it. Sound simple, right? Fly the plane. This seems obvious enough, but he provided examples of different occasions when this rule was not heeded, and disastrous consequences resulted. What do you do if a jungle creature of Vietnam crawled into the cockpit during the night, and it was not discovered until you were in flight? Fly the plane. This still happens today as pilots have reported snakes, mice, and other creatures stowing away and only deciding to make their presence known once the plane is off the ground. If a pilot allows such things or any other things to become a distraction to the main task of flying the aircraft, he endangers himself and others. When under attack by hostile forces or hampered by mechanical failures; no matter what, fly the plane. This is the first rule for beginners and remains the focus for the most experienced aviators.

Most of us will not pilot a machine that gets us off the ground, but this same rule would be wisely applied when behind the wheel: DRIVE THE CAR/TRUCK! Do not text and drive, do not play with the sound system, do not try to eat a meal; just concentrate on driving.

However, this is a blog concerned with spiritual matters, and you have likely already made the spiritual application. No matter what life puts in our path, LIVE FOR THE LORD! Like the two previous admonitions, this one seems obvious and self-evident. Unfortunately, personal experiences remind us that we sometimes are easily distracted from this priority. Jesus stated our obligation in Matthew 6:33: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Someone expressed the idea I am trying to convey in these words: “Keep the main thing the main thing!”

Countless things can keep us from living for the Lord. These include sickness, stress, job requirements, family responsibilities, social commitments, and more that can be lumped under the “cares of life”—Luke 8:14. Whether flying, driving, or living, we must struggle every day to keep our focus and priority where the Lord desires. By doing so, we ensure our safety and success both now and for eternity!