Are you flying by the seat of your pants?


My cousin Jim knows  from his years of soaring into hurricanes and typhoons that flying into a storm is extremely dangerous. But as part of a U.S. Air Force weather reconnaissance team, it was his job to help gather weather data so forecasters could better predict a storm’s strength.

It was critical, Jim says, that team members trusted the “artificial horizon”— a line on the plane’s instrument panel which always corresponds to the earth’s horizon, no matter in which direction the plane is flying.

“When you’re in the clouds and in storms and you can’t see the horizon—the earth, the ground, good old terra firma—you have to rely on the artificial horizon,” Jim explains. “You have to trust that it is representing the horizon. You have to trust that it represents something you can’t see.”

In the early days of aviation when aircraft had few navigational aids, a successful flight was accomplished mainly by the pilot’s judgment and instincts; that is “flying by the seat of your pants.”

“All you could do was fly by your sensations,” Jim explains. “If you were coming out of your seat, you must be upside down. If you were pressed down into your seat, you must be flying higher.

“The problem is that [our perceptions] are not always accurate. You can feel like you’re flying normal and perfectly fine, but it’s just that the airplane is falling at just the right speed to feel normal. You have to look at your instruments and believe them.”

All of us are in at least one life-storm right now. The pandemic for sure, with perhaps a health crisis, financial burden, raw grief, or relationship struggle thrown in as well.

My question is: Are you and I flying by the seat of our pants?

If so, our feelings can be overpowering and paralyzing. We can become so disoriented in a storm that we don’t know whether we’re headed up or down.

Just like a pilot needs an artificial horizon line, we all need something to keep us heading in the right direction. I believe God’s Word is the always reliable compass on our instrument panel. Every day we need to turn to it and find truth regarding our life-storms. And then we need to ask the Holy Spirit to give us the strength to trust those truths no matter what’re feeling.

When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation. Proverbs 10:25

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. Isaiah 40:31

Put your hope in the Lord. Travel steadily along his path. Psalm 37:34

I love author Max Lucado’s perspective: “Faith is trusting what the eye can’t see…Eyes see storms. Faith sees Noah’s rainbow.”

(FYI My cousin, retired Major James Perkins flew with the U.S. Air Force 53rd WRS Hurricane Hunters from 1975-79 and with the 54th WRS Typhoon Chasers from 1984-86. And yes, he is VERY smart!)
Be sure to open in your browser to enjoy the music video below, “Oceans (Where Feet May Fall) by Hillsong United.

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