28. Course Correction

The pilot tried to avoid a course correct through multiple cloud layersThe pilot stared hard at ambiguous gray overhead. Systems like this one—from the south—often meant two to four weeks of rain and caught-up maintenance. Their route lay to the south, towards deteriorating weather. Could he get this missionary there before the jungle closed down? Then, inspiration. Instead of flying the regular dogleg route south to Huasaga and then a hard left for the quick descent into Surikenza, he could go direct. Finding it shouldn’t be that hard, just hold heading like a Pharisee and keep track of time.

Once the pilot flew under the cloud layer he realized he needed a course correctionIn the air, a dark, sullen wedge of glowering clouds forced him lower. No rain yet, and visibility was okay. Gentle pressures on the rudder pedals kept it straight. Finally, time’s up. Look for the strip. Nothing left, nothing ahead, bank right, and … nothing right. Okay, the wind must be strong. Keep flying straight, keep looking. One minute, nothing. Two minutes, nothing. Three … Four? Something’s not right. Okay, going direct was a bad idea, so let’s turn right for Huasaga. Can’t miss anything that big. One minute, two, three, no Huasaga … Not good. The view to the south looked worse. No time to return to the starting point. Then he saw a strip—neither his destination nor his turning point. In fact, he didn’t recognize it at all, nor could he find a likely candidate on his chart.

this jungle airstrip was visible only after a course correctionHe stuffed Captain’s pride into his flight bag and landed. Indians ran to the plane. The missionary asked, in their language, if they could tell him the name of their fine airstrip. Stunned blank stares, pass the information, more silence, and then the guffawing laughter that looks the same in any language. There, on the chart, he located it. Still way north because of the wind, he flew five more minutes south to Huasaga. Then, turn left to 103 degrees, count off three minutes, and Surikenza appeared. At this low altitude, the narrow opening in the trees was only visible from this angle, no other.

Sometimes, despite deepest desire and strongest intent, we can’t get there from here. God’s path leads us to a place He knows we can find. Then, He gives us a course adjustment so we approach His destination from an angle that makes it visible to us. If we went direct, we wouldn’t recognize it even if we stumbled across it.

So, when goals turned into waypoints, what new goals materialized after you were obedient to make the turn?

Genesis chapters 37-46; Acts 16:6-10; Acts 9:1-19

cover of book containing Motley Crew GlueExcerpt from Call For News-Reflections of a Missionary Pilot Click here to get the entire book.

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