Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

February 15, 2012

Today’s Flashback — “Flying by the seat of your pants!”

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

(The number of readers of my blogs has surged. I am going to periodically provide “re-runs” as a convenience for those new readers who may be searching the archives.  I will refer to these “re-runs” as Today’s Flashback.)

Most folks have heard the expression “flying by the seat of your pants.”  And most of us have some idea of what it means.  It is, of course,  old aviation slang.  Early flying was not by navigational equipment, but by the pilot’s judgement.  Sitting in his seat at the controls, the pilot would be sliding forward or even lifting himself slightly out of the seat to see the terrain and perhaps some familiar markings.  He had to depend upon his vision and some knowledge of the geography.

Much like the bush pilots of today.  The pilot does not file a flight plan because there is no registered airfield where he will land.  He simply knows something of the terrain and navigates by sight.  The navigation is by the pilot’s own initiative and perception.  He does not have an exact, predetermined plan.  He may make sudden changes in his flight.  Sometimes it may be a good decision, and sometimes it can be a costly decision.

God  reinforced in my life that I could not “fly by the seat of my pants.” We lived in San Jose, Costa Rica, but sought to minister in Limon.  Limon was an isolated city.  There was no road by which you could reach this city.  The only way to reach this city was by air or train.  The train was often unavailable because of washouts or landslides.  When the train was available, it was a nine-hour trip for the 90 miles distance by rail.  Flying time was very brief, usually only 30-35 minutes.  The shortest route was  a straight line between the two.  But even by air that was not possible.

Flying to Limon gave you that feeling of “flying by the seat of your pants.”   Imagine a small plane. Imagine dense jungle and high mountains.  By air  from San Jose it was necessary to go over the great continental divide.  The plane could not get enough altitude to go over that mountain range so it was necessary to fly through the  pass. In fact, it was almost like a snake to go though  several passes.  This meant a lot of turning and twisting, and for most flights the turbulence was strong.  It was always frightening to the children, and Judy and I would seek to calm them even when we felt fear.

“Flying by the seat of your pants” would take us through these mountain passes to Limon.  As we would clear these mountain ranges, ahead of us was  the beautiful Caribbean.  Before landing  we would see the beautiful blue water and the white, sandy beach.  The turbulence had released us and it was smooth flying now.  However, there was little time to enjoy the calmness and beauty.  Quickly we needed to land.  There was no airstrip, and so the beach became the runway.  After the landing and engines were shut down, we would debark with a sense of peace and thanksgiving.

After this experience on many occasions, one cannot help but hear a teaching from the Lord.  Life is not to be lived by “flying by the seat of your pants” but with a flight plan!  A flight plan can give the surest and safest route through life.  Whenever I have attempted to live my life on my initiative, things generally don’t go too well.  There are too many crashes if I am at the controls.  I soon discovered that my perception of my journey was based on instinct and personal want.  That was not the plan of God for my life.

God has a divine will for each of us.  Joy, peace, happiness, satisfaction, and add all those words we would like to use to describe our life can be ours.  But that life can only be experienced if we follow the flight plan God has filed for us.  We may not know our full destination in this world, but we can trust Him as the Pilot.

Take some advice from one who knows.  I spent too many years “flying by the seat of my pants.”  It did not bring fulfilment to me, and it caused me to waste many years of my life when I could have known the  joy and peace I have today.  Let God lead you each day through every mountain pass.  You will be safe, and you will have joy.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”  (Proverbs 3:5, 6)

Lawson

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2 Comments »

  1. Very interesting description. Tom and I were just there. We disembarked from a cruise ship in what is now called Puerto Limon and took a bus to San Jose. It was to be a 2.5 to 3 hour drive that turned into 5 hours because of a strike that blocked the ONLY road for a while. Still, after all these years, there is only one road from Limon to San Jose. It’s a beautiful drive along a very winding road through those mountains over which you all flew. The port has grown, I’m sure, since you were there but it is still very poor. The wealth of the cruise ships does not spread far from the docks except to “chosen” shopping for the most part.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by fcspatti — February 15, 2012 @ 8:02 am | Reply

  2. Amen to that scripture. You and your family have had such exciting experiences.

    Johnny recently went with friend and neighbor in his small plane. It was interesting said he, but when John made a quick turn and he went to the side, Johnny grabbing as he wasn’t expecting that turn. He was glad for the opportunity but didn’t care to try again!

    The Lord made the rest of the trip (path) straight as John realized that Johnny wasn’t exactly comfortable with that turn

    Comment by doriswhite — February 16, 2012 @ 7:05 pm | Reply


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