Even the most seasoned travelers experience failure from time to time. Life is a path and a process that doesn’t end until it ends. We have never been this way before. Going through life is like building an airplane while it’s flying. We all will shave a few limbs of the tops of trees as we barely pull out of the stall we were in. Another point to consider is this. There are passengers in our plane too. Unintentional opportunities to learn can affect others too.
During times like these, the big question isn’t, ‘How could I let this happen?’ The big question is ‘What’s the right way to deal with it?’ Indulging in self-condemning thoughts comes naturally to us but it does no good. It just produces shame and adds failure upon failure. Let me illustrate with a great flying story. As a person with over two million, one hundred thousand miles on United Airlines, this story grabs my attention.
A few years ago there was a flight approaching Glasgow airport in Scotland. The captain was on the speaker and the announcement went something like: “Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. We have just started our approach to Glasgow and will be landing in about 20 minutes and . . . OH MY GOD!!!” The microphone suddenly went dead. There was complete silence in the passenger cabin.
A few minutes later the announcement continued: “Hello again ladies and gentlemen. Sorry about that. Just as I was speaking to you, the stewardess was handing me a cup of coffee which spilled into my lap. You should see the front of my trousers!” A voice piped up from one of the passengers: “That’s nothing! You should see the back of mine!” I hope that didn’t offend you. You wouldn’t believe what happens on airplanes.
You see, the big concern was not, ‘Stewardess, how could you do this to me?’ The big concern is, ‘Land the plane!’(So the guy in back can change his pants). Landing the plane takes precedence over what happened to that pilot. Up in the air was not the time for the pilot to contemplate his hurt feelings, sensory overload, and protocol violation. Landing the plane was the matter that mattered.
The Bible has a true story about the point that I am making here. The story is located in Joshua 7:1-10. The people of God had just defeated a very fortified city named Jericho in a most unconventional way. The next city which stood in their way was called Ai. The city had a small army. This should be an easy victory for the people of God.
As Joshua’s army advanced into Ai, the unthinkable happened. The much smaller army of Ai struck down the Israelites. The Israelites fled before them. Dare I say, the stewardess spilled the cup of hot coffee on Joshua’s lap. The people of God didn’t handle this well either. The Bible says, “…the hearts of the people melted and became as water.” In other words, the passengers and the guy in the back of the plane said, “That’s nothing. You should see the back of our pants.”
Now the test comes for our leader, Captain Joshua. At first, he didn’t do so well. “Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until evening…” (A bad choice for the pilot, the passengers and the plane).
What does God say to this? “So the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Rise up! Why is it that you have fallen on your face?’” My translation: ‘Quit worrying. Quit filling out excuse forms to the FAA and flight attendant complaint forms to the union. Worrying about your pants won’t help. Fly the plane! You’ve got passengers with you. Rise up!’ Israel went on to defeat Ai after Joshua rose up and made a mid-course correction.
I hope this article inspired you. When troubles come, don’t go with them. Rise up. With your choice and God power, anything is possible. Remember, land the plane. That’s the matter that matters.
Church-Community Connection is published weekly in 10 newspapers all over the world. Most of these newspapers are local paid subscription newspapers. The goal of these 450 word articles is to build a bridge to the community through humor, wisdom and changing mental perceptions that the community has of the church.