Monday, November 3, 2003
Missionary pilots are my personal heroes - especially since the incredible job they did moving our Native American team across Alaska recently. Often there really wasn't much of a runway to land on or good weather to fly in, but they always got us there safely. Now, on one flight, I was in the co-pilot seat in our little six-seater aircraft, and our pilot, Gary, was flying us to a Yukon River village through some low visibility, low ceilings - just generally lousy weather. And as we neared our destination, he said, "I hate this part. We're in the dead zone." Now "dead zone" isn't exactly what I want to hear from a pilot when I'm flying with him, so I asked Gary what he meant by that. He described that part of a flight where you cannot communicate with the tower or with any other aircraft. You're kind of all alone. It doesn't last long, he explained, but if you're in trouble or you're going down, nobody knows. It's a lonely stretch. Well, after a couple more minutes, Gary broke into a big smile and he said, "Good. We're back." I smiled, too.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Flying Through The Dead Zone."
Now you may never fly an airplane, but you probably know about navigating life's dead zones - those times when it seems as if heaven is silent, answers just aren't coming, no one seems to understand, and your feelings are either blah or they're all over the map. It's a lonely season. Maybe it's what you're flying through right now in your life journey.
The 23rd Psalm is spiritual "chicken soup" for life's dead zones. David reminds us that "the Lord is my Shepherd," even when I can't see Him or feel Him, that you are being protected, provided for, guided, even when your feelings are flat and God is invisible. Then comes that bottom line assurance that is all the difference when you feel out of touch with the tower and with all the other pilots around you.
Our word for today from the Word of God - Psalm 23:4. "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." Now you may not be facing physical death right now, but it may be a season of dark shadows, a deadness inside, confusion, uncertainty about what's going on. Well, your hope, your stability is to look up to your Lord as the Psalmist did and say, "I will fear no evil, for You are with me."
My wife has told me about her long walk to the school bus as a little girl. For most of it, she was in sight of her house and her grandparents' house or her neighbor's house. But the last stretch was a path through a dark woods. And that stretch she had to walk alone. Maybe like the stretch you're on right now - a stretch no one can walk with you except one Person. My wife would face her fears by singing a song as she passed through her "dead zone." "Jesus loves me, this I know ... Yes, Jesus loves me."
When a pilot gets in trouble during a dead zone, nobody knows. But if you belong to Jesus, there is no such time, no matter how alone you may feel. Jesus always knows. Jesus always cares. Jesus always leads you through. Your feelings may be lying to you, so keep your eyes on the instruments. Believe God's Word right now and nothing else! Hang onto those time-tested promises of God's Word like a drowning person hanging onto a life preserver. They are still true, and you need them more than ever.
If a dead zone is a time when no one knows and no one understands, you will never really fly through a dead zone. The feelings may not be there, the people you love may not be able to be there, the visible answers to prayer may not be there. But Jesus is there! Hang on tighter than ever. You never know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you've got.