Fly Right

Challenge Central: a CBC devotional

By: Casey Korstanje 

The flight instructor turned to the student pilot and said, “Ok, let’s descend and land.” 

“Right,” said the student. 

The instructor watched closely, her hands hovering over the controls. This was going to be the student’s first approach. 

“He’s doing great,” she thought. “So relaxed, smiling. No sign of stress.” 

The airplane sank toward the runway, crossed the threshold and then slammed into the pavement. It bounced up 20 feet before hitting the runway again where it promptly looped around before rolling off into the grass. 

“That was the worst landing I have ever seen,” screamed the instructor. “What were you thinking?” 

“I thought you were landing the plane,” said the student.  

John Kerr wrote a wonderful Central Challenge last week under the headline: “Perspective.” He described his view of the mountains as his flight slipped over the granite peaks of southern British Columbia toward Abbotsford International Airport.  

“Abbotsford International? What a grandiose name for YXX,” I thought. I mean the airport looks like a check mark from the air with one short and one longer runway. I was surprised it could handle a 737.  

YXX is pilot shorthand for Abbotsford. It’s what they print on your baggage tags. Pearson is YYZ, Hamilton is YHM, Brantford is YFD. Never mind, pilot geek stuff. 

I remember flying into YXX as a student pilot. There is a 4000-foot peak just east of runway 07, the main landing strip. The approach is flown at precisely 69 degrees on the compass. Not 70 degrees, not 68 degrees, 69. If you missed the approach you had to do a hairy go-around involving a hard left bank and climb. 

Flying an airplane is actually fairly easy, it’s just not forgiving of mistakes. Pilots need to be humble and submit to precisely following operating procedures, checklists, approach charts, flight plans and air traffic controllers and instructors.  

When I was listening to Pastor Jeremy take us through Psalm 9 on Sunday, I was struck by the call to humility at the end of the Psalm and that failure to humble oneself leads to disastrous results. 

Psalm 9:19–20 

[19] Arise, O LORD! Let not man prevail; 

let the nations be judged before you! 

[20] Put them in fear, O LORD! 

Let the nations know that they are but men! Selah (ESV) 

My flying instructor spent a great deal of time pressing fear and humility into my heart.  

I needed to know that I was “just a man,” Selah. 

“See those cumulonimbus clouds? As far as you are concerned they are made out of concrete, and if you fly into them you will die.” Selah. 

Psalm 9:17 

[17] The wicked shall return to Sheol, 

all the nations that forget God. (ESV) 

So will the pilots who forget the rules of flight and the SOPs (standard operating procedures). 

The scriptures are the Standard Operating Procedures for Christians. 

Do you want to fly right? Heed the scriptures. 

Psalm 9:7–8 

[7] But the LORD sits enthroned forever; 

he has established his throne for justice, 

[8] and he judges the world with righteousness; 

he judges the peoples with uprightness. (ESV) 

God is the chief flying instructor here. He teaches us, He guides, He helps us and He judges us. 

He is also on our side. 

Psalm 9:9–10 

[9] The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, 

a stronghold in times of trouble. 

[10] And those who know your name put their trust in you, 

for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. (ESV) 

The standard operating procedures say, learn His name and seek Him out. 

My flying instructor provided me with flight manuals and operating instructions. He told me to study them, take them to heart and if I had questions, to ask and not presume. 

Do that, he said, and you will get your wings. 

Psalm 9:11 

[11] Sing praises to the LORD, who sits enthroned in Zion! 


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Statements of the Heart(Psalm 10) »