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  • "A Musing Pastor"

Ignoring the Instructor.

"Now then, my sons, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say. Keep to a path far from her, do

not go near the door of her house, lest you give your best strength to others and your years to one who is

cruel, lest strangers feast on your wealth and your toil enrich another man’s house. At the end of your life

you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent. You will say, “How I hated discipline! How my heart

spurned correction! I would not obey my teachers or listen to my instructors. I have come to the

brink of utter ruin in the midst of the whole assembly.” (Proverbs 5:7-14, NIV)

I was so excited the day my radio controlled (RC) airplane kit arrived in the delivery truck. I was going to build my own RC airplane and learn to make this baby do barrel rolls and steep dives. I would be quite the pilot out on the airfield.

With the plane complete, it was just a matter of practice, practice, practice. If you know me well, then you know my patience span is about as long as the eyelashes on a gnat. More experienced and more patient flyers took me under their wing and gave me good pointers. I was shaky with takeoffs and landings were not even a consideration.

Devoting time and resources to this new hobby was a challenge for me. Young children and a full time job vied for my time and energy to. It didn't take long for my antsiness to set in and I hatched a plan to try a solo take-off of the plane out back of the house. With a huge field to work with, what could go wrong? I planned the takeoff, the first few maneuvers, and how I would circle the plane back down the same lane I would lift off from. It would be a cinch. REMEMBER: I was not ready for solo flight. I still needed about 8-10 hours of coupled flying time before I should be doing anything by myself.

In my mind, I was ready and needed nobody to help me. So, with a flip of the propeller, the plane buzzed to life. I set it between my legs and powered the engine to test it. Check. I moved the rudder. Check. I controlled the right and left aileron. Check. A final check of the elevator was complete. We're prepared for taken off captain. Roger that sir!

The first 15 seconds of takeoff are crucial. One needs to gain altitude and control of the machine. For me, these moments were rough but I managed to get the plane into the sky. As with any rookie pilot, human error is always a predator waiting to bag its prey. And so, the next 30 seconds are indelibly burned into my brain. As the plane reached a safe altitude, oversteering the plane set in and before I knew it, the plane was flying away from me. I panicked and lost focus. Before I could think myself clear, the plane was out of my sight beyond the tree line. Once you lose visual with your plane, it's impossible to know what control to touch.

In a moment of brilliance or total stupidity, I kept hitting the elevator control. Essentially, the plane kept rising upward until it lost contact with the radio. Fear, a bit of anger, dejection, and an overriding sense of failure seized me. A careful search of the woods produced nothing. Well, I had taken a plane that costs about $200 and basically threw it away.

The moral of the story is, 'When learning a new procedure or hobby, take your time and listen to instruction. Learn how to fail gently and develop your skill level in conjunction with a sage teacher who will allow one to learn in the midst of mistakes.

How this translates across disciplines and our life of faith is plain. We need to submit to God's authority and seek instruction from our heavenly Father through His word. Flying solo and creating our own brand of faith is dangerous and will likely either cause a crash or at the very least have us lose our way. Be careful then to listen to God and follow His wisdom and truth.

(Stock photo:

PS: Tomorrow, I'll finish the story.

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