Flying Without Cover

July 10, 2010 § 1 Comment

Last week, in Nashville, where Katherine grew up, I was given the opportunity to fly an N3N, the last biplane used by US Forces, and a training plane used during WWII. This model is owned and operated by a friend that Katherine went to high school with, John Loudermilk. You can catch a glimpse of the experience in the videos provided in this post.

To say that the flight was a thrill would be an understatement. The biplane is a two-seater, open-cockpit vessel. It’s wings and fuselage are primarily covered with treated cloth – its engine is pretty much out in the open – it’s instruments look primitive in the sense that they represent a much earlier, simpler day of aeronautics. John piloted from the back and I sat closest to the single propeller in front of a stick that moved when John moved it, and one I got the rush of commandeering for a few exhilarating moments when John let me do the flying. For a half-hour we flew over the Cumberland River, with the Nashville skyline in the distance and the magnificent landscape of Tennessee’s natural beauty everywhere. In an open-cockpit you feel as though you are flying without the vessel itself – you are completely exposed to the elements, the air and the experience of some mysterious oneness with Creation.

Now to put this into perspective you have to know that, in spite of the fact that I grew up in an airline family, and have flown my entire life, I went through a period of time when I was terrified of flying. I recently wrote of this to a friend, Kim, from Tallahassee, in response to her magnificent post (cited below) of a similar experience…

“…somewhere in my life when I felt that I had a lot to lose I began to get terrified of every bump and dip – and I finally realized that God was bringing me face to face with my fear of dying and my repulsion at not being in control, and my running sadness at the thought of not being with our family, walking our daughters down aisles – that kind of thing – so much unbelief in the veracity of the Gospel. Then one day it was as though God said, ‘it would only be a moment, mike’ – and it went away (mostly – I still get white-knuckled from time to time).”

Check out Kim’s Post here:

Actually the Gospel teaches that our richest experiences will always come with maximum exposure. Our tendency and temptation is to cover up. There are far too many threats to an exposed life, and so it is natural to live out of the protective shell we create with our fears. But it seems that those who violate that instinct live life deeply.

This must be what Peter began to discover when he impetuously, yet enviably stepped into (or onto!) the water as Jesus had done (Matthew 14). Sure, he sank, but for a moment he tasted what no one had before or since.

And I have found it equally enviable when people freely admit their sins, and confess their struggles, and expose their weaknesses. They give us something to bear and share – something to love and accept – something that reminds us that being unfinished is part of God’s great Redemptive Story, centered on Jesus who was completely exposed on the Cross, in securing our Salvation.

This is Good News, Friends…


§ One Response to Flying Without Cover

  • Kim says:

    At the same time terrifying and exhilerating… ties in well to your sermon yesterday, which we were glad we were there to hear! Thanks, Mike!

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