In 1989, I was flying a plane using regular radar. We didn’t have the advantages of GPS and satellite weather then. I needed to penetrate a line of thunderstorms. When I asked the controller for permission to deviate and go around a storm cell, I didn’t know it was hiding an even bigger cell behind it.
I did what pilots are never supposed to do—I flew right into a massive storm.
The plane shook so violently I couldn’t read the instruments. Within seconds, I was jerked 1,400 feet above my assigned altitude. Words from my instructors went through my head, “If you ever get into that spot, forget your altitude, and just remember your attitude.”
The controller spoke calmly (like the Holy Spirit does to us in a storm), “When you can, turn about 15 degrees to the left. You should be out of the storm in four minutes.” Sure enough, I popped back out of the storm.
You never read about me in the papers that day.
Ten years later John F. Kennedy, Jr., piloted a fatal plane crash off Martha’s Vineyard. It affected me on several levels. One was this: exactly one year prior, I had flown that same route. I remember thinking, “You can’t tell which end is up out here—even on a clear day!” With the water and haze, the color of the ocean went right up into the sky.
The National Transportation Safety Board’s accident report noted that other pilots flying that night reported no visual horizon while flying over the water because of haze. The report listed John F. Kennedy, Jr.’s flight training and stated the plane did not malfunction. The probable cause was his failure to maintain control of the airplane during a descent over the water, which was a result of spatial disorientation.
The primary difference that caused me to survive is that I had more training in recovering from “bad attitudes” than JFK Junior had.
“Forget your altitude, and just remember your attitude.”Wyatt Brown
One primary flight instrument is the attitude indicator. It shows the position of the plane in relation to the horizon. When the wings on the gauge align with the artificial horizon, the aircraft is in level flight.
With just one glance, the pilot can tell if the plane’s nose is pointed up or down and if the aircraft is turning. It is critical because the inner ear can be tricked, and the pilot can’t tell whether the plane is going up or down.
In attitude training, pilots are trained to recover from unusual attitudes in flight. It can mean life or death. A pilot must be able to control the plane’s attitude to survive.
The parallels to our lives are remarkable! We must also be able to control our attitudes to navigate life successfully.
There are few things in life we have control over. But we can control our attitudes. Colossians 3:2 (NIV) tells us to set our minds on things above. That includes attitudes.
You will end up in situations you didn’t see coming. Things happen around you that are out of your control. Suddenly, you’re in an unusual or bad attitude. To survive life’s storms, you must be able to control your attitude.
What is your gauge for a level flight in life? “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had” (Phil. 2:5 NLT). Your attitude is the major difference between success and failure. If you think like Jesus, you know you are more than a conqueror. The Holy Spirit is inside you. And you can do all things if you choose to believe.
[Editor’s Note: Wyatt Brown is a ’78 RBTC graduate and pastors Grace Christian Church in Greenville, South Carolina, with his wife, Debbie. This article was adapted from his message at A Call to Arms 2013.]
Faith IN ACTION
Five Principles for Developing a Healthy Attitude
1) Choose to think positive.
2) Practice learning and growing.
3) Find teachers and be teachable.
4) Conquer fear.
5) Don’t stop taking action.
It’s not too late! Register for A Call to Arms at rhema.org/CTA now!
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