When I twenty-three, I soloed for the first time as a Private Pilot trainee. My instructor was not much older than me. One day after practicing a few touch and go landings, he signed me off and let me fly solo. That first time around the pattern alone was a combination of joy, freedom, and a bit of fear. As pilots say, “Any landing you can walk away from is a good landing.” I didn’t grease it, but it worked.
In the last year, the Church has gone through some challenging times. Leaders got stretched and stressed. Our familiar times of corporate fellowship became a distant memory. We had to engage our faith in different ways and settings. Many who were dependent on a certain model of ministry led by a prominent figure have now been forced to fly their faith solo. They learned how to make it work in the absence of familiar support mechanisms.
Before you land in the new future that is yet to be seen, make sure you catalog what you have learned in this time of separation and change. Your faith has been reduced to its basic elements, just like it was for me flying alone that first time. Only a few things make an aircraft fly from a basic trainer to the most advanced jet fighter The basics are the strength of our faith. Without affirming them and knowing how to use them in all conditions and seasons of life, we will reengage the future only to experience a crash landing in the past.
In the years that followed, I would go on to get an Instrument and Commercial Rating and eventually become a Flight Instructor myself. All those additional ratings built upon the basic principles I learned in that little Piper Cherokee in my first few hours of instruction. In matters of faith, only a few things really matter. Mastering those basic elements allows our faith to break free and become mature.
Our faith is meant to be like flight. The poet John Gillespie Magee wrote in his classic poem “High Flight”, “Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth, And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings….and touched the face of God.” When this is all over you will realize you have been made stronger and more confident in this solo season. The basics of your faith will have been tested and affirmed. This will happen because you were forced to break free from the bonds of the familiar to soar higher in your faith. In that flight, you touched the face of God and in return, He touched you.