My grandfather owned a small airplane that he flew for years. By the time I was born he was older and had long since sold it, but he liked to regale us granddaughters with stories of his younger days and that included talking about his plane. He told me once that the instrumentation in planes at that time was very simple, nothing complicated like they have today. They were so basic that the plane had no indicators to tell the pilot whether it was flying right side up or not. It was possible to get in the middle of a deep bank of clouds, get turned upside down and not know it. So he tied a string to a pencil and taped it to the ceiling of his plane. That way, if the plane turned upside down the pencil would fall against the ceiling and the pilot would know he was in trouble.
I want indicator lights in my life. Lots of them. I find myself constantly looking for feedback. I look to my circumstances and want to draw conclusions from them. I want good circumstances so that I can feel like God is happy with me, and I’m tempted in bad circumstances to worry that God might be mad. I want positive feedback from others so I can feel good about how I’m doing. I want to look everywhere except to the one place where I should.
Getting caught up in trying to read God’s pleasure or displeasure in the circumstances of life is a dangerous business. There have been times when my circumstances have been bad, but God has been amazingly present and changed my life. I’ve also experienced very positive circumstances both when God seemed present and when He did not.
I need to fly blind, with only a pencil hanging from the ceiling, the barest of instruments lighting my way. I want to cling to God, to His presence and the promises in the Word about who He is and what He offers. When I’m in the midst of clouds and can’t find my way, I want to remember to look to the ceiling and let God direct me. If I can do that, then my faith is unshakable. In good times and in bad I look only to the author and finisher of my faith.
Psalm 31:3 (NKJV)For You are my rock and my fortress; Therefore, for Your name’s sake, Lead me and guide me.