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Intersection of Life and Faith

Got Control Issues?

  • 2001 22 Aug
Got Control Issues?
Editor's note: This is the first of occasional excerpts the Live It Channel will begin running. Synopses will still be featured most of the time, but excerpts from Christian living books will appear on selected days.

An old pilot's adage goes like this: "I'd rather be down here wanting to be up there than to be up there wanting to be down here."

Those words came alive for me several years ago when a businessman in my church invited me on a quick flight to Columbus, Ohio. He enlisted a man in our congregation to pilot the plane. I was as trusting as a new baby. I didn't ask any questions about the credentials of the pilot or the condition of the airplane.

It wasn't until we were airborne that the subject of flying into a busy, controlled airport after dark came up. It was then that Jim, the pilot, revealed that it was something he had never done before but had always wanted to do.

That's when I got the first lump in my throat. It also marked the beginning of one fervent, high-altitude prayer meeting.

Every time Jim would fumble with the radio, the map, or even scratch his head, in my mind I would increase my church building pledge and volunteer for missionary service. There was a crisis of trust going on in that little airplane: I did not trust that pilot!

I recently received some e-mail humor about an airline that had a mix-up in its schedule. The passengers waited several minutes in confusion concerning the destination of this flight. The plane didn't move away from the gate, and the crew seemed to be deep in discussion.

Finally a flight attendant made an announcement. "There seems to be some confusion about the destination of this flight. If your destination is Omaha, please remain seated. If your destination is Dallas, you are asked to exit the plane at this time."

Suddenly the door to the cockpit opened, and the pilot put on his coat, grabbed his flight case, tipped his hat to the passengers and said, "Sorry, folks - I've got the wrong plane."

Can you imagine the sinking feeling the passengers going to Dallas had? In a larger sense, some people face such feelings every day. They wake up wondering who's in control, and do they know where they're going?

If you've had some questions like that, here are some steps I would advise you to take:

  • Seek God's deliverance above human delieverance. "You are my help and my deliverer; O my God, do not delay" (Psalm 40:17). Some folks work their way through the entire yellow pages section of the phone book before they get to God. They seek everything from aspirin to acupuncture to deal with their dilemmas - when deliverance is only a prayer away. Superhuman situations need supernatural intervention.

    Peter was in a situation the Coast Guard couldn't help. He needed a Savior - and Jesus was there. He is always ready to reach for us and safely put us back in the boat before we go under.

  • Believe God in spite of the storm. "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7). Three hundred sixty-five times in Scripture we are told, "Fear not." That assurance is built on the foundation of God's character, not our crisis. Even when you can't see the Pilot of your soul, you can be assured that He is firmly in control - and He knows where He is going.

  • Focus on the things you can change, but forget the rest. The psalmist is surrounded by turmoil, but he makes a decision of faith: "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging" (Psalm 46:1-3).

    He knew he probably couldn't change his altitude, but he could change his attitude. He couldn't change the threats, but he could change his trust - he decided to praise the God who was a refuge, strength, and help in trouble.

Excerpted from The Harder I Laugh, the Deeper I Hurt: Unmask Your Pain¸ and Let the Healing Begin, copyright 2001 by Stan Toler and Debra White Smith. Published by Beacon Hill Press, Kansas City, Mo.,, 1-800-877-0700.

Stan Toler is the senior pastor of Trinity Church of the Nazarene in Oklahoma City and hosts the television program Leadership Today. Debra White Smith is an author and speaker who lives in Jacksonville, Tex. with her husband and two children.