From Jim O'Brien
November 30, 2018

Self Deception

Hi Friend,

For some piloting an aircraft is a great thrill. Many years ago I was blessed to join that elite group of flying enthusiasts who are privileged to grasp the yoke in hand, place both feet on the rudder pedals, push the throttle full forward and experience the almost incomparable feeling of lifting off the ground with no other human in the cockpit.

I enrolled in flight school at the Florida Institute of Technology, completed ground school and absorbed every single word that Frank, my flight instructor uttered as if my life depended on it. It did.

Absent the inevitable risks the endeavor would lack the thrill. What is a minor event for a seasoned pilot can be a harrowing experience for a student-pilot on his first cross-country solo. The task is to take off from home base, make a couple of landings at airports in nearby towns, return home, taxi the plane to the apron and diligently enter another two hours of flight time in the logbook.

I had looked forward to ascending to this rung of the ladder on the way to becoming a licensed pilot. It so happened that the day of the big event the weather was marginal, meaning a misty rain would cover the windshield during the flight and it would be necessary to fly under the ominous clouds that created a low ceiling.

"A little rain doesn't bother you?" I remember Frank saying. "Not me!" I replied, with a bravado that is easy to muster with feet attached to the ground.

So, off I went into the wild misty-grey yonder with a sectional, otherwise known as a map, neatly folded in my lap. As I passed one hazy landmark after another, it was necessary to pick up the sectional and refold it to reveal the next destination. It was during one these map adjustments that my eyes left the horizon and looking up again, I was shocked to be engulfed in a cloud. The closest comparison I can draw is driving down an expressway at 125 miles per hour and passing a big truck that suddenly covers your windshield with a spray of water that temporarily obscures your vision.

The rest of the flight was one stressful incident after another. With some relief I approached Titusville airport for the second touch and go. As I felt the small craft lift off the runway and rise into the sky I could see Kennedy Space Center off to the side. All that was necessary was to make the final leg south to Melbourne.

Assuming altitude I was enjoying the view of the Atlantic Ocean off my right wingtip. For a second I was puzzled about why the ocean was on the wrong side of the plane. Then reality struck. "I'm flying the wrong direction! If the ocean is on the right I'm flying north!"

In retrospect it was more than just an arrogant thought, it was foolish to think that creation itself was wrong and I was right. Nature has set landmarks for us to follow and it is self-defeating to attempt to change them.

Solomon twice penned a proverb about landmarks that reflects a command from the Old Testament law. Some variation of the statement occurs five times. "Do not remove the ancient landmark which your fathers have set." (Proverbs 22:28)

Maybe the most frightening thing about the world today is the removal of moral landmarks-landmarks that have existed since the beginning of time. Who are these agents of change and what arrogance causes them to think they have learned more in 25 or 50 years than has been revealed in the previous 6,000?

We live in a world where respected authorities tell us that sexual identity cannot be determined by physical attributes. We have changed the definition of murder. We don't know what constitutes a marriage or even who or what can be married.

The denial of these clear landmarks began with the rejection of basic moral truths-the Ten Commandments. They were never meant to save us-only Jesus Christ can do that. They are landmarks God set before us to tell us how to live.

We are like a pilot looking out of the cockpit thinking the ocean is on the wrong side of the plane. One day reality will strike. We'll finally come to our senses and understand that nature and nature's God is right. It's us-we are going the wrong direction.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien