Several years ago, a friend and I were flying into Eugene, Oregon for ministry at a local church. I was piloting a high-performance single engine airplane that was based at the Burbank, California airport. When we departed Burbank the local weather was clear, but from the weather forecast we received we knew we were flying into deteriorating conditions that would greet us upon our arrival in Eugene.
After a short stop in Northern California for fuel we filed an instrument flight plan and took off for the last leg of our trip. The conditions in Eugene were not looking good. Fog and low clouds were waiting for us and the other arriving aircraft. As we got closer to Eugene we were number two for landing behind a commercial airliner. This was a full size passenger jet. We were only a four-seat private aircraft.
As we listened to air traffic control the airliner declared a missed approach. The airliner had flown down to the minimum altitude for a safe landing and could not see the runway lighting and therefore had to go around and try again. I turned to the pastor flying with me and said, “Let’s give it a try”. I based my decision on experience. A large jet aircraft emits a tremendous amount of heat. The heat left behind in the trail of a descending jet can actually change the weather conditions in its immediate flight path and open up the clouds to make a way for following aircraft to land. That was just what happened with our flight. As we approached landing minimums we were able to see the runway and approach lighting and made a safe and uneventful landing.
I was reminded of this flight and its similarities for all of us in our journey of faith. Each of us will enter seasons when obscured conditions surround our families, ministries, dreams, plans and finances. As people encounter these conditions some have declared a missed approach because the conditions ahead of them seemed impassable.
These missed approaches are not the end of the story. God allows each of us to make another pass for landing. On the day of our flight, after we had landed and while taxing to the terminal, we overheard a radio transmission from the jet that had declared the missed approach ahead of us. They were able to finally land on their second attempt.
In times of pressure and challenge we can forget that God is a way-maker when no way seems possible. The heat of His presence is able to alter the spiritual climate on our spiritual flight path and make a way, even using the flight path of those who have gone before us who had to declare a missed approach.
Each of us encounters a moment or a season when life becomes shrouded with the clouds and fog of disbelief, fear or hellish opposition. We are not responsible to make our arrival at our destination a reality – only God can do this. We are only responsible to keep flying in faith and trusting that He is making a way possible.
When Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica he said, “We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering.” (II Thessalonians 1:4) When Paul penned this sentence he used the word “endurance” a composite word created from two other words. One of these words means “up” and the other means “to hold”. Paul’s sentence could be read this way, “We proudly tell God’s other churches about your ability to reach up and hold on…” Paul was saying he was proud of the Thessalonian’s ability to reach outside their challenging circumstance and take hold of things not yet seen in this realm that were the substance of faith. This action is the essence of flying by the instruments of faith when the destination is not yet in sight.
Many of you are being prepared to make a landing into new seasons and new destinations. The flight path may be shrouded by conditions that might cause you to abort your approach too early. God wants you to know your landing is coming soon. This is a time to reach through the fog and clouds in faith and continue on with the flight plan of God.
God’s presence has gone before you in this journey. Just like a large jet aircraft would heat up the environment and open up a way through the clouds, God is doing the same for you. His presence is going before you and He is altering the spiritual environment of your flight path. Your job is to keep flying in faith knowing that God will make a way when no way seems possible. At some point you will see the runway lights and realize your arrival was a supernatural event made possible by a good and loving Father.
“For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19)