Saturday, 9 April 2011

Flying on Cloud 9

I remember it distinctly: Flying in the jump seat, situated just behind the pilots in the cockpit of a Ryanair 737, inbound for Dublin at night. Those were the days, before 9/11, when if you had the right contacts, you could ride in the cockpit. So here I was, on the second trip of the day to Dublin. The previous flight had been in daylight, but this was an instrument job; flying blind, as it were, through cloud with only the instruments to navigate by. Curiously, I noticed the aircraft seemed to be surround by a winking pinkish light, which confused me until I realised it was the reflection of the orange and red navigation lights bouncing off the clouds. It was an eerie experience. Suddenly, we came out of clouds and there before us, some five miles away, was the bright white ribbon of the runway lights. In no time we were safely down.

The following week I rode in the cockpit again, this time to Pisa. We landed at night, running in over the sea, no sign of the leaning tower. I got out of the plane, walked around it twice to stretch my legs and got back on. That was my trip to Pisa!

I understand from a pilot friend of mine that if you fly through clouds in a light plane and rely on your feelings as to your orientation, it is possible to come out of the clouds upside down! We all go through 'clouds' in our lives. Flying blind as it were, relying solely on the instrument panel of God's Word: His promises. I feel like that at the moment. Flying through cloud, unaware of quite where I am going. I think the psalmist felt like that quite a few times. In fact his feelings are there for us all to be encouraged by. 'My God, my God why have you forsaken me?' is his cry.

I remember once flying over the Lake District. We turned over the magnificent screes of Wastwater and then the pilot announced: "I'm lost"! You see, when you're up at 3000 feet, all the Lakes disappear into the valleys and all you can see are the mountain tops and the many ridges. "Find me a Lake" I said "and we'll navigate from there." We found Windermere. I directed him north over Grasmere, Thirlmere and Derwentwater and then we turned north-east to Carlisle airport. We landed safely: A little knowledge goes a long way!

Sometimes in life, we fly blind for a while. Then God brings us out of the cloud, showing us that He was there with us all the time.