Angel in the Cockpit

Me:  Are you ready for take off!

Prodigal:  Yes, this is going to be a fun flight!

Me:  I think it will be too.

This is from the book  Where Angels Walk by Joan Wester Anderson

David Moore and his wife, Florence, discovered in July 1971 that Florence’s mother was dying of cancer.  The Moores lived in the small town of Yoakum, Texas, then, but they began driving  back and forth to Hendersonville, North Carolina, to visit the sick woman.  After one trip, David decided to leave the car in North Carolina for Florence to use, and take the bus back to Texas.

“It was the worst idea I ever had,” he says, laughing.  “Forty-six hours of riding and listening to babies cry!  On our budget I couldn’t afford to fly, but I made a vow to walk if I had to–anything to avoid getting on another bus!”

The following week, as David packed and planned a hitchhiking route to Hendersonville, Henry Gardner phoned.  Henry had heard about David’s transportation problems, and he volunteered to fly David to North Carolina in his small Cessna 180 and get in some sight-seeing at the same time.  David acccepted gratefully.

David had never flown in a small plane, and he was nervous as the two men taxied down the runaway early the next morning.  But the little aircraft lifted gracefully, and he sat back to handle this unfamiliar duties as navigator.  Within a half hour, however, as they neared Houston, they ran into fog.

“This is no problem,” Henry reassured an increasingly nervous David.  “We have aviation maps on board, and look- you can see the Houston radio towers rising above the fog.  All we have to do is watch the towers, and we can tell where we are.”

He was right, and their journey continued.  But the fog worsened, and just outside of Jackson, Mississippi, the plane’s radio and instruments died.  Now the pair couldn’t see anything on the ground, nor could they talk to people in the control tower.

Just as David was becoming desperate, the fog lifted for a moment to reveal the airport directly beneath them.  Henry took the plane down smoothly, and within minutes that had found an airport mechanic.  Relieved, the two men grabbed a quick lunch and were soon airborne, with instruments and radio restored and fuel tanks filled.

Everything went smoothly for a while.  The sun had come out, and David’s tension diminished.  He began to enjoy the flight and his bird’s-eye view of the ground.  As they traveled northeast, he could see Atlanta off to his right.  “I was getting excited, ”  David says, “knowing that soon I would be with my wife and daughter again,”.

But as the plane passed Greenville, South Carolina, the fog, which had been patchy and broken, turned once again into a continuous gray mass.  There was enough visibility for Henry to clear the first mountain range, but as the two looked into the distance, they saw a solid wall of fog, and their hearts sank.  Henry radioed Asheville Airport for instructions.

“Our field is closed because of fog,” the air-traffic controller responded,” and we have no capability for instrument landing.  Return to Greenville and land there.”

“But I can’t, Henry protested.  “We’re almost out of fuel–we won’t have enough to fly back to Greenville.”

There was a silence.  Then, “Okay,”  the radio voice snapped.  “We’ll get the ground crew ready.  Come in on an emergency landing.”

David gripped the sides of is seat.  They seemed to be flying in a dense gray blanket, and the Asheville control tower couldn’t possibly see them.  How were he and Henry going to land?  We can use the aviation maps, just like we did before,”  Henry reassured David, and after a brief scan of the blueprint, he began his blind descent.  The airport runway should be beneath them–but what if it wasn’t?

Suddenly a voice came over the radio:  “Pull it up! Pull it up!”

Henry immediately pulled up on the stick.  As he did so, the men saw a split in the fog, and the view beneath sent tremors of fear through each of them.  Instead of being over the runway, they were above an interstate highway!  Had they descended a few feet farther, they would have hit a bridge and certainly crashed.

The two looked at each other.  They were almost out of fuel, and inside the grayness it was impossible to know where they were.  Henry tried to descend again, but almost hit the tips of trees poking above the fog.  Again, he pulled up sharply.  There seemed to be no way out of their dilemma.  Without enough fuel–or guidance from the control tower–how could they possibly land?

Then, with enormous relief, the heard the controller’s composed voice breaking into the tense silence in the cockpit.  “If you listen to me,”  he said, “I’ll help you get down.”

“Go ahead,”  Henry radioed back in relief.

The controller began his instructions.  “Come down just a little,” he said,  “Now over to the right.  Down a little more…..”

David gripped the seat, praying intently.  Thank God the controller had been able to pick them up on radar, despite the airport’s apparent lack of the necessary instruments.  But would they make it in time?  It seemed impossible.  The fuel needle hovered on E but the voice went on with calm authority:  “Not so fast.  Easy, easy now….”  Was this nightmare flight ever going to end?  And would he see his wife and daughter again?

“Raise it up a little now.  No, you’re too far left.”  The journey seemed to be taking forever.  But all of a sudden the controller said, “You’re right over the end of the runway.  Set it down….now!”

Obediently, Henry dropped the plane through the fog, and the two men recognized the beginning of a runway just ahead, with lights along both sides.  It was the most welcome sight they had ever seen.  Within minutes, they had touched down.  Tears of gratitude and relief filled David’s eyes when he saw Florence standing at the end of the runway.

The plane taxied to a stop, and the two men offered a quick prayer of thanksgiving.  Then Henry turned the radio on again.  “Thanks so much,” he told the air-traffic controller, his voice shaky with relief.  “You probably saved our lives.”

But the controller’s response stopped both men in their tracks.  “What are you talking about?  We lost all radio contact with you when we told you to return to Greenville.”

“You what?”  Henry asked incredulous.

“We never heard from you again, and we never heard you talking to us or anyone else.”  the controller told them.  “We were stunned when we saw you break through the clouds.”

David and Henry looked at each other.  Who had  guided them through the grayness and onto safe ground?  They would never know for sure.  But even today David never hears a small airplane without thinking of that flight.  “I know now that, insignificant as I may be in this big world, God always has His eye on me.”  he says.  “He sustains me through the storm and the fog.”

As for God his way is perfect;  the word of the Lord is tried; he is a buckler for all them that trust in him.

2 Samuel 22:31

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Lifelong Process

Me:  Watcha thinking about?

Prodigal:  Just something that happened the other day.

Me:  Maybe this will help you sort through it.

This is from the book A Man of Grace and Grit: Paul by Chuck Swindoll

You know our problem?   We confuse conversion with maturity.  We’d rather these new converts clean up their act straight away before we grant them our genuine seal of Christian approval.  How sad.  Somewhere along the way we’ve forgotten the details of our own  miserable pasts and the grace of God at work in us.

No person,  no matter how bright or how sincere or how submissive, comes to Christ and enters a world of instantaneous spiritual maturity.  Becoming mature is a lifelong process.

Matthew 18:15

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

A New Name

Me:  I am glad you brought a friend today!

Prodigal:  Well He has been hearing about the stories and wants to hear one himself.

Me:  Well, this one is especially for him.

 

This is from the book The God Who Hung on the Cross by Dois I. Rosser Jr. and Ellen Vaughn

 

In early 2002, Randy, an American traveling with us was entertaining the children in one of the Cambodian orphanages.  A ventriloquist, Randy uses monkey puppets to tell Bible stories.  After the program, the director of the orphanage brought a boy, about nine years old, to Randy.  The boy reached out and hugged Randy’s monkey puppet, Squeaker, as if he were a long-lost relative, jabbering with wild monkey noises and gestures.

Then the story came out.  The boy, who has Down Syndrome, was born in a fishing village in the jungles of northern Cambodia.  The Khmer Rouge was still active in that area in the late 1990’s.  They descended on the Great Lake fishing village and slaughtered most of the inhabitants, though some were able to escape to the mountains.  When these returned, they assumed that the baby boy had been killed along with his dead family.

But a group of monkeys, who often came into the village at night to steal drying fish, found the baby still alive.  They took him back into the jungle and nursed him.  He lived with them until he was about three.

Then hunters came into the jungle, looking for monkeys.  They found the human child, and brought him to the monks at a local Buddhist temple.

They tried to humanize the boy.  But after a year and a half, the Buddhists decided he was too “monkeyized” for them to control.  Perhaps he was being punished for the sins of a past life.  They turned him out into the streets of a nearby village, where he lived like a stray dog.

Then an orphanage was being built nearby.  The construction manager came to know the little monkey boy.  He had compassion on him, and brought him to live in the orphanage when it was completed.  He’s been there for years now, loved and cared for with dignity.  He’s not just “monkey boy” anymore.  Now he has a name: Matthias.  He is in school, worships God passionately through music, and is an earnest disciple of Jesus Christ.

 

Deuteronomy 3:24

O Lord God, thou has begun to show thy servant they greatness, and thy mighty hand:  for what God is there in heaven or in earth that can do according to thy works, and according to they might?

 

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Self-sins

Me:  I am trying to get everybody to look at me at the same time.

Prodigal:  These are kids and you are pitchin’ straws in the wind.

Me:  You can’t blame me for trying.

This is from the book The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer

It is woven of the fine threads of the self-life, the hyphenated sins of the human spirit.  They are not something we do, they are something we are, and therein lies both their subtlety and their power.  To be specific, the self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love and a host of others like them.  They dwell too deep within us and are too a host of others like them.  The grosser manifestations of these sins, egotism, exhibitionism,  self-promotion, are strangely tolerated in Christian leaders even in circles of impeccable orthodoxy.  They are so much in evidence as actually, for many people, to become identified with the gospel.  I trust it is not a cynical observation to say that they appear these days to be a requisite for popularity in some sections of the Church visible.  Promoting self under the guise of promoting Christ is currently so common as to excite little notice.

Remember your number one job is to promote Christ and allow God to deal with those that are promoting themselves.

Proverbs 15:16

Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

No Room

Me:  That church has been here for awhile.

Prodigal:  I am sure it has a lot of history.

Me:  I reckon it does.

Reader, what have you done since this church opened to make it a benefit to mankind?  We trust your entire duty to this mission.  This church extended a helping hand to the poor people outside of this church.  Do you allow the poor to enter this church with the same welcome as those in costly robes?

AUTHOR UNKNOWN, January 20,1889

(penciled on a rafter in the attic of Trinity United Methodist Church, Denver, CO)

Who wrote that?  We do not know but even so it says a lot in just a couple of sentences.  What have you done?  And do you allow?  Was this a reminder to himself?  Was this someone who saw how the church could quickly get off course?  Was it both.  Was this because of something that happened or did the Holy Spirit encourage the writing?  If someone was to read your writing 120 years from now, what would you say?

Reader, what have you done to continue to live out Jesus love to mankind?  We trust your entire duty to this mission.  This church extended love and a helping hand to others outside the church.  Do you allow love to enter this church even, with the poor, the rich, the needy, the desperate, the unlovable?

Psalm 146:7

Which executeth judgment for the oppressed; which giveth food to the hungry.   The Lord looseth the prisoners:

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Patience and Hope

Me:  How is time spent with your friend?

Prodigal:  Good but he is as stubborn as a grape juice stain.

Me:  Those STUBBORN people…what can we do with them.

This is from the book Reaching for the Invisible God by Philip Yancey

According to Stanley Hauerwas, the life of faith consists of patience and hope.  When something comes along to test our relationship with God, we rely on those two virtues: patience formed by a long memory, and hope that our faithfulness will prove worth the risk.  Jews and Christians have always emphasized these virtues, Hauerwas notes, for we believe that a God who is both good and faithful controls the universe; patience and hope keep faith alive during times that cast doubt on that belief.

It is easy to doubt at this time.  How many different schemes have God’s enemies come up with against God’s people.  You have seen plenty.  In fact the world since Jesus time and before has seen plenty.  Look at what they did to Jesus.  You have suffered and you have weep with a deep resounding sorrow from the pain that they have caused God and His people.  You have also seen supernaturally how God has protected you time and time again from the enemies all around you.  You should just have faith now and a little patience.

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

Romans 14:11

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

The Gravity of Sin

Me:  We have to wait a while.

Prodigal:  That is fine, we can do something else while we wait.

Me:  Let me share the latest in what I have been reading.

This is from the Cross of Christ by John R. W. Stott

The New Testament uses five main Greek words for sin, which together portray its various aspects, both passive and active.  The commonest is hamartia, which depicts sin as a missing of the target, the failure to attain a goal.  Adikia is “unrighteousness” or “iniquity”, and poneria is evil of a vicious or degenerate kind.  Both these terms seem to speak of an inward corruption or perversion of character.  The more active words are parabasis (with which we may associate the similar paraptoma), a “trespass” or “transgression”, the stepping over a known boundary, and anomia, “lawlessness”, the disregard or violation of a known law.  In each case an objective criterion is implied, either a standard we fail to reach or a line we deliberately cross.

It is assumed throughout Scripture that this criterion or ideal has been established by God.  It is, in fact, his moral law, which expresses his righteous character.  It is not the law of his own being only, however; it is also the law of ours, since he has made us in his image and in so doing has written the requirements of his law in our hearts (Rom 2:15).  There is, thus, a vital correspondence between God’s law and ourselves, and to commit sin is to commit “lawlessness” (1 John 3:4), offending against our own highest welfare as well as against the authority and love of God.

He maketh peace in thy borders, and filleth thee with the finest of the wheat Psalm 127:14

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org