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  • Tim Patterson


PLYMOUTH – Many years ago, I had to make a trip to Texas from Florida, which required that I employ the services of one of the available airlines. The flight to Dallas was uneventful and brief in comparison to the 16 to 18 hours it would have taken if I had gone by way of automobile.

The second leg of my journey was a bit different as I flew from Dallas to Corpus Christi, Texas but this time, I was in a petite propeller driven craft that was quite small and cramped in comparison to the jetliner I had taken out of Jacksonville.

It was a very overcast day and the moment we took off we were in the clouds. No sight visibility, just blind flying through the soup. Bouncing. Rough. Sometimes moving up and down and side to side as much as we pushed forward. 

For one who has a great deal more faith in “terra firma” than in man-made flying machines, this made for a rather nervous and unsettling situation. The pilots had a door between them and the passengers. During the flight it sprang open as the result of a severe bounce the plane took when encountering an air pocket.

I looked in at them and one pilot was reading a newspaper while the other sat casually peering over his instruments and completely ignoring the view through his cockpit window.

They were flying by instrument and had engaged the autopilot. These pilots were being guided by a standard of reference that was outside of themselves. It mattered not what was going on inside that cabin, or for that matter in the immediate surroundings. That which was guiding them and ultimately us to our final destination was a set of directional beacons and transmitters that were constant and never changing, no matter what the pilots did or what the weather might be.

The pilots knew that they must obey the instruments whether they felt like it or not. They understood that their own senses and feelings could be deceiving and unreliable, especially during times of turbulence and the loss of visibility. Those pilots had faith in their instruments and that is what brought us safely and uneventfully to our planned destination.

Society could benefit greatly from the actions and attitudes of these pilots. In the moral and spiritual areas, modern man has decided that he needs no outside standard of reference. From the perspective of most in our society today, the only point of reference that is needed is within oneself.

This has given birth to a people where there are no absolute standards of right or wrong. Everyone does his or her own thing. Everyone is free to take his or her own path and to go in whatever direction they desire. They falsely assume that all roads lead to the same destination.

Without a standard of reference outside of ourselves, we as human beings are bound for disaster. Our opinions are faulty. Our perspectives are skewed. Our morals have been corrupted and the standards of right and wrong have been so warped that they are hardly recognizable.

The only hope that we have of arriving at our appointed destination as individuals and as humanity is by putting our trust in God's standards of right and wrong and let Him guide our lives. Only He can see matters in their completeness, and view them from a Heavenly perspective. It is imperative that we take our hands off the wheel and put our trust in the God of all creation who can and does have a perfect perspective.

It is a scary thing to let go and trust completely in an outside source, but it is the only way to fly.




Tim Patterson is Executive Director/Treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Elected unanimously in May of 2015, Patterson formerly served for 9 years as pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. He also served as trustee chair and national mobilizer for the North American Mission Board.


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