Put some men up front

Let’s say you’ve never flown a small plane. You’ve had rides, but never sat up front.

Then, one day, they put you in the co-pilot seat of a Cessna, take you up a few times, and give you a book to read. An everything-you-need-to-know type of book.

Three weeks later you’re taking off by yourself, alone, at the controls.

We had that guy talk to our group. He described taking off that first time, circling the airport, and putting it down on the runway. What an explosion of adrenaline — everyone in the room could feel the rush.

Then he described the day they had him fly crisis simulations. Specifically, the point-it-straight-up-till-it-stalls drill. Right now. Go!

After a quick 360 to check for traffic he pointed the nose up and watched the horizon disappear. The farther back his seat tipped, the harder the engine strained. Soon it was shaking and rattling, the stall alarms were screaming in the cockpit, and the entire instrument panel was warning of calamity. Then the engine stalled.

When you’re pointing straight up and your engine stalls, there’s this thing you’re supposed to avoid. It’s called a death spiral. Where one wing loses lift before the other, dips toward the earth, and pulls the plane into an unrecoverable spin. When that happens, you’re toast.

And that’s what began to happen.

Into every life a moment of clarity comes. With farm country spinning across his windscreen, this guy had such a moment. “This is why they had us read that everything-you-need-to-know book,” he realized.

I can’t recall all the technical details of his pullout — which he did remember from his reading — but by the time he talked us through his white knuckle recovery, every eye in the room was fastened on him. Which made for a wonderfully receptive audience when he observed that we must be in the Word because that’s our everything-you-need-to-know book.

I wouldn’t have dreamed that lesson up in a hundred years — which is the point. There are men in our churches whose life experience equips them to understand God, faith, and following Christ in ways we’ve never considered. So do your students a favor and get those guys up front. You may need to go over a few pointers ahead of time or pull loose ends together afterwards, but the connections and insights they share are a treasure. Put it out there.

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