I remember the birthday that my dad surprised me with a ride in an old Stearman biplane. It was the most exciting thing I had ever experienced in all my life. Strapped in the middle of the wide front seat by myself, with the prop wash and roar of the engine, we took off for my first airplane ride. It was a bit unnerving with the wind and noise, but I soon came to really like it in spite of my uneasiness.
After climbing a bit, the pilot made a few turns which challenged my not-too-steady nerves. I discovered that tipping sideways in a turn was okay, even a bit fun. All of that was just the warmup though, and I didn’t suspect what would happen next.
While flying straight and level, the pilot began a slow roll. At first it seemed like we were making another turn. However without the turn’s centrifugal force holding me in place, I began to slide sideways on the slick leather seat troubling me greatly. By then, the plane had rotated ninety degrees, and I’d slid against the cockpit while the plane continued to rotate. As it began to turn upside down, the slightly padded seat I had been sitting on was exchanged for air with only the seatbelt preventing me from my first attempt at skydiving. Not being comfortable with just the seatbelt between me and a free fall experience, I immediately grabbed the front edge of the seat. To my satisfaction this provided a great handhold, and with my eyes closed, I proceeded to cling to that seat with every ounce of strength I had.
Having given my full attention and might to staying in the plane, I realized the plane was now completing the roll. I was back on the seat sitting where I belonged. When my heart was no longer synced to the motor RPMs, I began to relax. I took inventory and realized I was still in the plane and alive. Not bad. As if the pilot sensed I was returning to normal, he began a slow roll again. This time I was prepared! I grabbed the bottom of the seat and held on. Determined to keep my eyes open, I discovered the world was indeed beautiful upside down with the wind in my hair and new-found liberation from gravity. We moved about in the sky with total freedom from what weighs man to the ground.
Flying like the birds have flown since Creation was a marvelous and exciting new life for me. It was one that I would live for and give whatever I could earn in wages to experience over and over again in the future. Flying became my purpose in life and it remained so until about ten years later when I placed my faith in Jesus’ death on the cross for my sins.
Where are you in your walk with the Savior? Maybe you have no walk. Perhaps you are attending church because your wife wants you to, but you are living without the indwelling Spirit of God. Could it be that you have no real interest in spiritual things? If so, you are like I was – in love with the things of the world – and God has no place in your heart. If that is you, please ask yourself what you will do with your sin when facing a righteous and holy God. Remember, not all die old. The young die too and often without warning. Don’t delay to repent of your sin and believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay for your sins. “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out . . .” (Acts 3:19).
After my salvation, a competition for my heart began. Not only was there the competition between flying and the Lord, but I was married and working. My flying priorities caused conflict in my spirit, and there wasn’t peace when there should have been. I had Jesus, wasn’t He enough?
When I sought God’s answers to that question, He poured out grace and mercy in my life as He patiently continued to vie for first place in my heart. He led me to establish a daily Bible time first thing in my day. Because of that time in the Word, things began to improve. With great excitement, I saw my relationship with the Lord growing. I now was experiencing a new freedom that was far beyond the freedom flying gave me!
Maybe you have made a profession of faith. Perhaps at some time you prayed to trust Jesus’ death on the cross for salvation, but you do not have joy and freedom. I had great turmoil for a time after trusting Jesus. I wasn’t reading my Bible every day. I wasn’t feeding my spirit the Word of God what it needed to grow in Christ. There were no alternatives or quick, easy fixes. Jesus wanted first place in my life. As much as I loved the freedom and fun I had while flying, it lasted only until the money ran out. The joy that came with Jesus didn’t depend on money, but it did cost. It cost me time, focus, and even flying. When I gave Him proper place in my life, I had peace and joy. Though it has been over thirty years since I have flown a plane, I wouldn’t trade my freedom in Christ for the freedom of flying. There is NOTHING that beats life in Christ.
On that summer morning, I discovered the joy of flight and the freedom from what holds us physically down to this earth. Years later I discovered the joy of Christ and the freedom only He can give.
It is my delight to encourage dads who are weighed down trying to be all things to all people, dads who thought it was supposed to be better as a believer, and dads who are struggling with marriage or family issues. That is why I write a Dad’s Corner each month. I also provide an audio podcast of it because many dads don’t have time to read even a short article of encouragement. They can, however, simply listen to the Dad’s Corner as they drive.
As God has enabled me through the years to encourage dads in the role God has placed them in, the direction and power is always the same. “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). I want to share steady words of full surrender to Christ. That joy and exhilaration I experienced when I first discovered freedom from gravity is far exceeded by freedom in Christ through a surrendered life. As we begin 2013, may I come alongside you and be an encouragement to you and your family? There is no life, like life in Christ. Amen?