I find that folks are intrigued when they know that when I retired I was able to spend the time to obtain a private pilot’s license (technically not a “license”, but a “certificate”) and the additional qualification (“rating”) of being able to fly with only instruments, basically flying in clouds or on moonless nights with no visual references available.
While the actual mechanical skills required to get a plane from A to B are quite simple and certainly within the capability of anyone who drives a car, that third dimension is where all the complexity and need for extensive training comes in. Most car drivers never really appreciate the benefits of having to go where the road takes you!
As one of my instructors told me one time, “in any given situation there are probably twenty things that could happen, and nineteen of them are bad!”.
One of the first, and maybe most important, lessons taught — and demonstrated — when starting instruments-only training is that you cannot trust your “feelings”. Your body will “lie” to you through numerous illusions. (If you are interested, Google the “somatogravic” and “somatogyral” illusions). It is hammered into the trainee, “you can only trust your instruments not to lie to you!”.
Pilot training is filled with acronyms and mnemonics such as “aviate, navigate, communicate” — fly first, make sure you are going in the right direction, and only then take time to talk on the radio.
One of the scariest scenarios you can imagine is to be up there, with no idea where you are, and with no visual references; in other words, LOST!
There is training for that, summarized in three “C”s — climb, conserve, confess!
Climb! — get up as high as possible away from unseen obstacles and where you have a chance of orienting yourself using the sun or stars.
Conserve! — slow down! If you don’t know where you’re going, getting there fast is just foolish and burns valuable fuel needlessly! Make a list of your resources, fuel remaining, fuel burn rate, distance from last known landmark, charts, radios, food, water, etc.
Confess! — too many accidents have happened because of perceived embarrassment, a macho attitude, or perceived inconvenience to those who can help. There are resources already in place to provide assistance and it brings them joy to assist!
Any preacher worth his/her salt can take my three “C”s and produce a three point sermon, so I will let them do that.
My point today is that Jesus talked, a lot, about being lost.
“For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” Luke 19:10 NLT
He said it was his mission, his priority assignment and purpose in leaving the glory of heaven behind to get down in the dirt with us.
In Luke 15, Jesus tells three back-to-back stories about lost things — the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. Read the whole chapter and note the progressing intensity. The shepherd could just have put the loss of one percent of his flock down to the inevitable stupidity of sheep, and shored up the gateway to ensure that none of the others got out.
The woman who lost her coin could just have taken the attitude that “it’s in here somewhere, it’ll turn up eventually”.
The father could just have said that rebellion ends badly and written off the boy who was so self-centered that his own pleasure was all that mattered.
The sheep was totally oblivious to its plight, the coin had no say in the matter, but the son finally applied my three Cs of aviation.
He climbed out of his self-pity (Climb!), accounted for his resources (Conserve) and confessed that he was lost (Confess) — only to find, contrary to his expectation — that his father had anticipated his plight and help was on the way.
Now, you may find yourself lost — not in the muck and mire of sin — but in a sense of purposelessness or despair without real direction.
May I suggest you take my flight instructor’s advice to heart.
Climb — get to a place where you can get a different perspective. Conserve — count your blessings and the resources available to you (maybe even slow down until your direction is clear). Confess — reach out to those with spiritual resources to help you, starting with the ultimate resource, the Holy Spirit.
Don’t believe Satan’s lies that you are far from God’s mind, or that you are insignificant, or that it’s your own fault you are feeling depressed. It was and is Jesus’ mission to search and save folks like us despite the perplexities of life.
Like the shepherd missing a sheep, a woman with a precious coin, or a heartbroken father, he will leave no stone unturned to find you.
“Lord, lift me up, and let me stand By faith on Canaan’s tableland; A higher plane than I have found, Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.” Higher Ground — Johnson Oatman
Let’s get on up in that rarified air! No need for any Jesus follower to continually feel lost. He's looking out for you (in all senses of the phrase!)
Blessings on you and yours, Jim Black
P.S. if you’d like to read previous ruminations of mine they can be found at https://www.salvationarmyconcordca.org/chronicle/?category=Bible%20Study