If you’re a pilot, there are a lot of things to worry about up in the skies.
Stalling your aircraft is one of them.
If your plane no longer has enough lift to keep you flying, it will falter and enter an aerodynamic stall. You need to take corrective action, and fast.
So how does a pilot get out of a stall?
Nose down, full throttle.
This means the pilot must push the nose of the plane downward and give the engines full power.
To a layperson, this course of action seems scary and counter-intuitive. Surely the last thing a pilot should be doing when they’re in trouble is aiming the plane toward the ground at full speed?
It may seem nerve-wracking, but it’s the only way to get out of a stall. Going nose down, full throttle will give the plane the needed airspeed to regain lift and get out of the stall. Then, the pilot can resume level flight and continue on the desired flight path.
In life, too, sometimes we need to do something that scares us a little in order to get out of trouble.
Like when we sin or make a mistake that we know would displease God.
Around this time of year, an unwanted visitor makes its way into many a gardener’s life.
I’m not talking about weeds or pests, although we certainly have to contend with those.
Rather, I’m referring to garden envy.
It starts out when we’re visiting the gardens of friends or neighbours. At first, we admire their lush plantings and attractive landscaping.
If we’re not careful, however, this appreciation can morph into envy. We think, I wish I had roses as beautiful as hers. Or, if only I had room in my yard for a gazebo like he does.
This envy can then develop into disenchantment with what we have. Why am I stuck with so much shade in my yard? Why can’t we afford an inground pool?
We can even become resentful of our comparatively meagre gardens, when we should be grateful to have a garden at all: many people don’t.
Envy is something we need to nip in the bud, whether it relates to our gardens or our lives.
We get into trouble when we start comparing ourselves to others. This is true even in spiritual matters.
Gardeners know that every plant species has its own personality.
Some are easygoing and low maintenance; they’ll happily bloom wherever you plant them.
Others, however, are stubborn and picky. They simply will not cooperate when you try to transplant them.
When they’re comfortably settled in the soil they call home, they’re highly resistant to being moved. They might as well have a sign hanging on their branches that says, “Do Not Disturb.”
I found this out the hard way with some columbines in my yard. Try as I might, I can’t get them to transplant successfully to another location. It’s like they’d rather die in protest than go along with my plans.
We may not want to admit this, but some of us are a lot like my columbines.
Sometimes God wants us to make a major change in our lives to carry out His purposes and plans. It may be to change where we live or what we do.
But we often stubbornly resist His instructions. We dig in our heels in protest at any unwanted disturbance to our lives, even if we know the new course of action is something God would like us to undertake. We simply refuse to cooperate or obey.
If you’re married, do you have a “date night” with your spouse?
Some people set aside time each week when they get together with their spouse, just the two of them, and do something special.
Life is so busy these days that we sometimes have to actually schedule time to spend with our spouse. We have to juggle work, raising children, community involvements, caring for aging parents, hobbies, and so on.
There are so many demands on our time that we often have difficulty making sure we’re giving enough attention to the person most important to us.
And besides, we know that our spouse is aware of our love for them. So we let things slide and don’t make the relationship a priority.
In this way, however, the bond between you starts to suffer. Without regular conversations and one-on-one time, a distance can start to grow in the relationship.
It’s the same with our relationship with God: we’re so busy with family and work commitments that we sometimes fail to fit Him in to our schedules.
Do you ever feel a bit shaky when you’re “up at bat” in life?
Sometimes we face daunting challenges, and don’t feel we’re capable of facing them on our own. We feel like we need a bit of help, someone who can take over for us when we’re at our weakest.
Someone like a pinch hitter.
In baseball, a pinch hitter acts as substitute who bats for a teammate. The pinch hitter might step in because the original player is injured, or when the one next up at bat is a less effective hitter, such as when a pitcher is worn out after six or seven innings pitching.
The manager might decide that the substitute has a better chance of helping their team to score, or may send in the pinch hitter to execute a specific play. In many cases, the pinch hitter will be called upon at a critical moment in the game.
Sounds like a handy person to have around, doesn’t it?
Did you know that believers have a heavenly “pinch hitter”?
This teammate who comes to your aid is the Holy Spirit Himself.
Sometimes there can be magic hidden within the most unlikely of places.
Take tree burls, for instance (or burrs, to our British friends).
These rounded, knotty growths found on tree trunks can seem very ugly.
Burls form when the tree is under some kind of stress, causing bud growth cells to develop in an abnormal way. Such stressors might include bacteria, viruses, fungi, insect infestations, or wounds. A burl is visible evidence of how the tree is dealing with these attacks.
They look rather like tumours, and mar the otherwise regular pattern of the bark.
Surely there’s nothing good about burls?
But there is.
Their unsightly exterior hides magnificence.
Few people know that inside these contorted and gnarled outgrowths is concealed something wonderful. The wood that burls yield is unusual and highly figured, making it valued and sought after by woodworkers and artists.
This unique wood is prized for its beauty and rarity, and is often used for veneers or inlays in fine furniture, trim or panelling inside luxury cars, and for household objects like bowls or pens, which become works of art.
Do you have a few “burls” in your life? Some knotty problems that have grown into a tangled mess?
Wonder if God could ever bring something good out of them?
There’s no place like home, is there?
A lot of animals would agree with that statement, if they could speak.
Many birds and animals have an uncanny “homing instinct” that allows them to travel thousands of miles to return to the very same location each year.
Monarch butterflies from eastern North America return to the same wintering grounds in central Mexico each year, even to the very same forest.
Sea-dwelling Pacific salmon return to the same river they were born in to spawn.
Pregnant sea turtles migrate thousands of miles across the ocean to lay their eggs on the same beach on which they were born decades earlier.
And then there are homing pigeons, the champions of long-distance way-finding. Their homing instincts are so reliable that they’ve been used in wartime to deliver crucial messages over enemy lines.
But how do they do it?
One theory suggests that homing pigeons may have a mineral called magnetite in their beaks, which acts as a tiny GPS unit. This would allow them to sense the earth’s magnetic fields and their own position in relation to it. If true, it would mean that these birds are essentially flying compasses, with their beaks pointing them in the direction they should go.
It makes me wonder: do humans have a “homing instinct”?
If you’re a gardener, you know that when you plant seeds in the ground, you can expect results.
Not every seed will germinate, but a great many will. So you need to make preparations beforehand.
For instance, if you’ve planted seeds of climbing plants, you’ll need to provide something for them to cling to as they grow upward. Even if your pea or bean seeds haven’t germinated yet, you still might prepare some trellises or stakes for their eventual growth.
You wouldn’t think of not getting ready for the emergence of your seedlings and adult plants, would you? You have faith that they’re on the way.
Isn’t it funny, then, that when we pray and ask God for things, we often don’t really expect we’ll see any results?
Right now, living in countries like New Zealand sounds like a sort of paradise to the rest of the world.
Some island nations have been able to beat back the novel coronavirus to the point where life is almost back to normal.
People in those countries can once again attend concerts, go out to restaurants or to church, return to their workplaces, and hug their friends and family.
They can pretty much go about their pre-pandemic lives.
For those of us living in countries still battling second or third waves of COVID-19, life in places like New Zealand seems like a dream.
We hope that one day maybe life will be like that for us, too: we long for a world where there are no more restrictions, suffering or death due to COVID-19.
In essence, we all yearn for a release from “bondage,” don’t we?
But even when we’ve been able to put the novel coronavirus in the rear-view mirror, this ache for freedom won’t quite go away.
Last week, NASA’s science rover “Perseverance” landed successfully on Mars, to jubilant cheers from scientists back home.
Mission managers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab near Los Angeles had been waiting anxiously for confirmation that the craft had landed safely.
Because it takes radio waves 11 minutes to reach Earth from Mars, “Perseverance” had already settled on the surface of the Red Planet by the time news of its safe arrival reached scientists back on Earth. NASA had to endure a nerve-wracking wait before they got the verification.
We encounter this time lag throughout our universe.
The light from our own Sun takes 8 minutes to reach Earth. Light from Pluto takes 5 hours. It takes 8 years for the light from the “Dog Star” Sirius to reach our planet.
This time lag means that with stars extremely distant from us, we’re actually seeing them now as they were thousands of years ago. It takes that long for their light to travel to us.
It sometimes seems as though there’s a similar “time lag” between our brains and our hearts.