Walk by Faith

the courageous walk by faith not by sight

Walk by Faith

“We have an emergency” – words you never want to hear, but especially not in an air traffic control center at a major airport.

A few weeks ago, near Houston Intercontinental, the pilot of a small plane was trapped above thousands of feet of clouds … trapped because he wasn’t trained to pilot his plane on instruments alone … trapped because 8,000 feet of thick invisibility separated him from a safe landing on the ground below. Mark Nelson, surprised by the unexpected weather conditions, forced himself to remain calm as the seriousness of his situation hit him with full force.

My brother-in-law, Hugh McFarland, an experienced air traffic controller and also an instrument rated pilot, was asked to intervene. His calm voice can be heard on the air traffic control recording of the incident offering skilled guidance and emotional reassurance to Mr. Nelson. Hugh officially declared the situation an emergency, well aware that most untrained instrument pilots will become disoriented after less than 5 minutes in the clouds, often causing them to make fatal errors.

It was a moment by moment harrowing rescue, as Hugh patiently and expertly guided the pilot through thousands of feet of zero visibility to a place where he could finally see the ground. I am celebrating along with many others the truth that our Sovereign God used Hugh to save Mark Nelson’s life!

But there’s another part of this story I don’t want us to miss. Even though the pilot was flying blind, he courageously refused panic while placing his complete faith in Hugh’s calm voice encouraging him to trust what his flight instruments were telling him. I’m moved by the reality of his emotional struggle, by the odds stacked against him, and also by his faith choice to respond obediently to each instruction.

What a powerful picture of God’s description of faith: “be of good courage … walk by faith and not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:6,7)

These words call me forward as I remember a day when I found myself trapped in thick clouds of unexpected disappointment. In this place of “zero visibility”, I lost sight of God’s Truth and was unable to see with an eternal perspective.

My dear friend Sara, who had the wisdom to know that no amount of advice could penetrate the depth of fresh grief, put her arm around my shoulder and began to pray God’s Word: “Lord, thank You that you hold this dear family in Your hands, ‘therefore we do not lose heart … For our light and momentary struggles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.’” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Somehow, just through the strength of faith in her voice, she handed me courage – the kind of steadfast courage that only comes through trusting in God’s Word. A fresh wind of faith blew across my heart helping me see beyond the temporary struggles into the light of His eternal hope.

Thankfully, few of us ever experience life or death situations where one wrong move could prove disastrous, but often we encounter moments where we’re in effect “flying blind.” At those times, may we be people who courageously fix our eyes on The God of all Hope and allow the truth of His Living Word to give us “eyes of faith” that look beyond our temporary struggles into eternal glory.

Lord, may we consistently run to Your Word for courage that we may become people who walk by faith and not by sight.