Word pictures work. They get a point across effectively. Pardon me for making pulpit material out of the July 1999 tragedy that killed John F. Kennedy, Jr., along with his wife and sister-in-law

     It's really the attention given the tragedy up on which I'm capitalizing.

     A key spiritual point is powerfully illustrated by the emerging buzz phrase this horrible episode launched. The Kennedy accident has introduced us non-aviators to "graveyard spiral" or "dead man’s spiral," dual terms for the suspected – though not verified – cause of the accident.

     Flying by the instruments as opposed to vision, reminds me that Christians are called to walk by faith and not by sight. Spiritually, I know I’ve been headed for a graveyard spiral several times, haven’t you?

     My friend Larry, a seasoned and accomplished pilot, explained graveyard spiral better than the reports I’ve seen on TV. For those who haven’t been glued to MSNBC, pilots flying by sight and not by instruments are susceptible to graveyard spiral whenever they enter visually challenging meteorological conditions.

     Hmm, lots of life’s circumstances are visually challenging, aren’t they? We can’t see the solution on the horizon. We don’t know which way to turn. We’re not sure how to rise above our circumstances.

     I was in a situation not long ago, where I wanted to relieve my pain by doing something immoral. This would have been the adult version of a kid throwing a fit, I suppose.

     It was a good thing I had "instruments." My instruments consisted of knowledge of the word/mandates of God, and friends who supported me with prayer, encouragement, and advice consistent with the Lord’s way of doing things.

     I had to take my eyes off my hurt, look away from pride, and trust that the indications of what God wanted me to do would bring me to safety.

     Another thing they say about graveyard spiral: if you’re in it, you’re not likely to get out of it – alive. I translate that to mean that if your dumb enough to get into the mess in the first place, you’re probably not smart enough to overcome it, although recovery is possible.

     That means don’t flirt with danger. Take precautions to not allow yourself to enter a perilous situation. Be aware that you could easily find yourself in over your head.

     When my friend Kevin hired a secretary he made sure – pardon the "discrimination" – that the woman was not someone to whom he felt physical attraction. "Why be tempted!" he explained. A married man, Kevin was performing the aviator’s equivalent of checking weather conditions at every point en route.

     Joyce Meyer sells a tape series titled something like "The Upside Down Kingdom that is Rightside Up." Her point is that God’s ways of doing things often conflict with the world’s system. Example: tithing; sowing your finances to reap a harvest. The world says to save and conserve, but God says to give and it shall be given unto you….

     Larry says that instrument flying goes against your natural senses and sensations. You have to do what your senses are insisting you not do.

     I can’t claim to be an accomplished instrument pilot spiritually, flying through life with the greatest of ease. I know, however, that’s a lesson I can learn and apply from this horrible tragedy.

– Terry Duschinski
Copyright 1999, Terry Duschinski


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