Sunday, July 12, 2009

It’s Not the Approach; it’s the Landing that Counts

We’ve all done it tough some time or other, and some have even had it even harder than us. The thing that makes all the difference in the long run is the outcome, and the way we ended and the shape we got there in, not really how we got there. Sure, the process is important, but certain outcomes surpass the circumstances colluding against us.

Think about life in these terms. After a seemingly endless holding pattern waiting for weather to clear, a ‘light’ Airbus A330 passenger jet makes its approach in ice and sleet, sheer tornado-like winds pushing it from side to side, back and forth; its engine’s straining in wanton obedience to the pilot.

The passengers hold their breaths--they know this landing will be rough. The cabin is eerily quiet besides the incessant rattling of overhead lockers in response to the constant turbulence. They notice out the fuselage portholes the fast-approaching ground surface and they feel the plane’s vacillating speed and attitude, the pilot’s attempt at pulling off a skilful landing to avert potential disaster.

As the landing gear is about to make contact with the runway, there’s a sudden hard pushing current of air that pushes the plane, making it list violently several degrees--the pilot’s struggle to bring the wing off the surface of the ground hurtling past.

Almost as suddenly as the lurching air-vehicle is recovered, it touches down and brakes are engaged urgently to a stop it less than 50 metres from the end of the runway. Seconds later, the passengers and cabin crew are ecstatic--they’ve all survived a miracle landing and they clap and cheer the brave pilots.

And it’s no different over our life spans. We can list, roll, struggle, and bend... battling to survive. Paul knew this life: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NIV)

The mistakes we make and the errors of judgment rarely mean we lose completely in life. Often we simply must just start again, from scratch. We learn resilience in this process of upheaval. We learn to smile the best we can--sheer faith in action--as we stare at what seems an interminable disaster. We’re not finished with yet.

We do not lose heart (2 Corinthians 4:1, 16). Faith finishes the work started, tolerantly adjusting for the faltering in places, but it finishes it all the same. These instead are light and momentary troubles (v. 17)--the weight of glory stands majestically alone willing us on, beckoning us to strain earnestly and faithfully for the finishing line.

The key thing is the finish; it’s ‘landing’ our lives that counts. If we’ve not landed i.e. with God, it’s not too late. It’s not too late to reconcile our lives despite all the turbulent circumstances about us. As we ‘land,’ the angels in heaven rejoice (like the passengers on the landed plane) and God too is pleased (Luke 15:10).

It’s not too late for God to make all the difference in our lives, even now. Expectant in faith, patient in hope, faithful in love--like God, we never ultimately give up, no, not ever!

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved.

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