When I was the pilot of our family plane, we often wanted to travel when the weather required flying on instruments. Moreover, enroute weather can rapidly turn bad and the only options are to land at an inconvenient airport, fly around the worst of it, or through it if it’s mild enough. Since I was also flying on business trips, I trained for instrument flying and added that rating. I logged nearly two hundred hours in the soup—with zero visibility. The reason I didn’t feel alone was that I was in constant radio communication with various enroute Air Traffic Controllers.
Before I went to the airport for a trip, I checked the weather over my intended route by calling a Flight Service Station, explaining what I wanted to do, and receiving a synopsis of weather and other factors which should be included in my plan. If there were no show-stoppers, I’d then file my flight plan in detail over the phone, with the understanding I should radio the tower before starting to taxi, and write down the final flight plan that was approved. I wouldn’t think of going to the airport until it had been filed.
Before we left home, everybody got weighed, each piece of baggage was weighed, and I calculated the weight of passengers, baggage, and how much fuel we would carry—even where people were seated and where baggage would be stowed. Then we left for the airport.
At the airport, while the kids and Nancy waited, I preflight checked the plane using another checklist, then told the gas truck how much fuel I wanted, and loaded the baggage. Then we boarded the plane.
Only after all that, did I radio the tower (or Clearance Delivery) to get my approved routing clearance, and wrote it down as it was read to me. Then I started the engine, got clearance to taxi to a specific runway, and when there tested my engine, before calling the tower to say I was ready to take-off.
The success of such a flight pretty much depended on how well I executed those preceding steps. Flying the airplane on an Instrument Flight Plan is one of the easiest exercises in an airplane. Once I’d flown us into position to lock on, I flew using radio aids which my autopilot could track. The rest of the flight was managed by communicating with enroute Controllers until reaching the destination, getting clearances at each transition point, including on the ground at the destination airport. Then I closed the flight plan.
Only once in 840 hours of flying did I experience an emergency, and immediately telling the enroute traffic controller gave me priority to land at a nearby city’s airport, with airliners told to hold. The incident introduced a ten-minute interruption in the flow of traffic at that airport, but it saved my life.
Flying is easier than life. Why do we leap out of bed, shower, eat, dress, and run out the door to our workplace, school, or other destination without a plan presented to our Life Controller, the Lord? Why don’t we ask Him for guidance on what we should include (or not) in our day’s plan?
I was called and responded to the Father’s call to Jesus when I was 34—not because I got smarter. No. In fact, it seemed the longer I followed the path at that moment, the worse things got. My career was o.k., and our marriage had held up for ten years (barely) until that time. I had two very young sons. And I was full of pride. People called me “lucky.” Then my firstborn son drowned behind our house.
Over the next two weeks, I came face-to-face with God and found He was the one I had been seeking. With my entire being, I signed up. And I have never started a day since, without first checking with him on how I’m doing, the fitness of my plans, and the specific things he wants as first priority that day. Our communications were less precise (on my side) in the beginning, but after 42 years, his instructions are as clear as Air Traffic Control’s revised flight plan.
O.K. I understand nobody likes to copy somebody else’s methods, but over the past 42 years—which included 6 years surviving amidst South American terrorist wars and the morning before I flew into that inflight emergency—I quickly fell into a routine like my preflight procedures. I rise from bed before I normally would, thank God, sit down with a Bible, and follow my current plan for this “quiet time,” which today includes two “primers” –akin to the weather and route briefing before I file my flight plan. One is a little booklet called Our Daily Bread which gives a small lesson on a specific passage of scripture, and then I do the same with another called InTouch. In the appointed scriptures and lessons, I find guidance and encouragement for the day—like that fuel truck filling up my tank. Afterwards, I make sure to wait for my approved clearance, which is usually the sense of peace Jesus promised (you’ll know it), and sometimes specific guidance to do or be alert for something specific. Then I start my day knowing I’ve prepared for whatever lies ahead.
Both tiny books come free to your mobile phone or computer. Just follow these links to the two web sites: Our Daily Bread and In Touch. Listen to them—you may like them. If you have no morning routine with the Lord, you can start with one or both of these on your mobile phone.
Thanks for visiting this first time.
Your brother in Christ,