The pilot finally had his chance. The fresh brake pads on the C-185 needed a “burn-in” before earnest use at a short strip. He’d seen others dance power and brakes, taxiing with tail in the air. He knew that too much brake would push the prop into the ground, not enough and the tail rolled boringly on the ground. He also knew that too much power pushed the plane too fast and not enough left the plane sitting there. After trial waving up and down he found the sweet spot and taxied, tail high to the far end of the 3,000-foot runway. The professional felt good mastering the esoteric heights of his trade. He turned and finessed the throttle and pedals to return on just the two main wheels.
Spotting God in Action
He leaves us neither alone, nor defenseless. Instead, he gives us light to shine in the darkest places. Using stories from aviation, space, and life I write about God working through ordinary people like us.
Hope it encourages you to look up, not down; forward, not back.
Stick to it. Don’t give up. Never surrender. Inspiration’s words sound good for fights and messy trials. But to what, exactly, do we stick? The high goals defend the charge of stupidity easily enough—stand to the last man, repel the invader, or stay in the fire to rescue the doomed child. But what about living in politically crazed nowhere-bovia when safety’s country sits only a choice away? Why raise your children in diseased jungle obscurity when clean opportunity waits at the other end of an airline route? What answer comforts a slandered heart whose faith is labeled obstinate and blind?
The Great Divide
A few weeks ago I flew to Montana and, just west of Helena, I crossed the Great Divide of the Americas. In the north, we call it the Rocky Mountains. In the south, they name it the Andes Mountains. This 10,000-mile-long geological colossus runs from the Bearing Strait in Alaska to the Strait of Magellan at the tip of South America and rules both continents in surprising ways.
Take the rain, for example. Billions of drops hurtle down upon the Divide. One inch of rain in a small, ten-acre shower produces a 1,130-ton onslaught. Where will it go? All the drops in a shower might start east, but turbulence pushes some west. Then a gust smacks others back east. Those collide with other drops and dive west. At the ridge, some ricochet off pine needles and tumble back to the east, hit rocks, and slide into the trickle feeding a stream that joins a creek, connects to a small river, then another larger flow, and, days later, melds with the Atlantic. Others miss the first trees and flow west. Despite their original trajectory, the Divide determines their end. All rivers on the east side of the Divide flow toward the Atlantic and on its west the Pacific—destinations thousands of miles apart.
54. A Monster Lives in my Closet
A monster lives in my closet; that one over there, behind the drape. I’d like to get rid of him, but he breathes fire, and his claws would rip me to shreds.
A monster lives in my closet. He roars, curses, and his smoke stinks. I’d like to get rid of him, but he’s kind of big, and he might bite me.
A monster lives in my closet. He bangs on the door, scratches the paint, and, yesterday, dented the wall. I’d like to get rid of him, but I can’t find the exterminator’s number.
A monster lives in my closet. He makes rude noises, interrupts, and has lousy table manners. I’d like to get rid of him, but I don’t know where to send him.
17. Grasping Trust
Slick leather sandals slipped on slimy mud. David’s knee struck the cave floor, but he bit his tongue. The other men pressed close in the dark, listening for pursuit. They waited, silent for a long time except for tight, panting breath.
Finally, he commanded, “Abishai, Ethan, check the way—carefully.” The two scouts nodded, turned, and disappeared around a corner, more felt than seen.
“Joab, tell them we spend the night here,” he said. Then, forcing a straight step, he added, “I’ll be back.” Taking a newly lit torch, he climbed farther in.
16. Plunging the Depth
We flee suffering, yet it crashes life’s party anyway. It drops like an anvil on the cake, messes up the treats and decorations we arranged just so, smashes the table, goes through the floor and gouges into the foundation. It plummets past rational thought, bypasses understanding, ignores defenses, and even transcends culture. Suffering’s collision with soul’s bedrock reveals character like a bell displays its quality with clear tone or dull thud. We can’t fake it. Our real nature lies exposed for all to see. We ask “Why?” Then we rail against the gross violation of our rights and demand “Why me?” As if someone else deserves it more. Only He knows the whole story, but we can see at least three small pieces of the mystery.
15. Blind Eyes Behold
We believe God’s promises, yet even on our best days, a shallow scratch reveals festering discontent. Disappointed, we see less than we expect. One voice in our head whines, “We play His game, so He owes us, right? Success, health, happiness, some sort of payment for our good deeds.” Another confesses along with the Psalmist, “Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”
14. True Light
My shoes squished with every step. A shiny trail ran between my desk and a dripping umbrella, waiting by the door for my next trip across the ramp. Six weeks of rain and mottled gray sky made it hard to remember any other color existed. I was tired—tired of wet feet, parked airplanes, and a waiting room full of people who only wanted to go home. Occasionally, the ceiling lifted just enough to fly, so we’d try to do a week’s work in two or three hours. A mad, splashing scramble to load passengers and cargo, and then a parade of planes trundled to the end of the runway. The high humidity formed misty condensation halos around spinning propellers. The bark of supersonic propeller tips momentarily pulsed over roaring engines as each plane took off.
13. Incomplete Counterfeits
One day, religious leaders challenged Jesus when the people worshiped him. He didn’t lower his gaze, furrow his brow with a half-smile, or give a bemused headshake saying, “No, no, no, their enthusiasm carries them to excess.” Instead he looked the question in the eye and said the rocks would praise him if men did not. He agreed that he was Lord and master. He proclaimed himself the Father’s Son and source of true food and drink. He claimed to be God, the Creator of the universe. Yet, the same Spirit also says he wouldn’t break a reed and names him the humble standard to follow.
12. Deceitful Heart
Jerusalem’s ashes cooled. Lizards crawled among the stones. But the dreams returned every night—Babylonian spears, Babylonian swords, first red then dried to crusty brown, yet still hungry. Now daylight brought more. King Nebuchadnezzar left Gedaliah in charge of the remnant. Then Ishmael killed him, captured all the Jews, and forced them across the desert. But Johanan rescued everyone. Wide, bulging eyes darted back and forth. “We can’t stay here. The king of Babylon will kill the rest of us when he finds out what happened. Run! Hide! Hide in Egypt!”