When I was just a little boy, no more than twelve-years-old, my grandfather would pull over on the side of a country road in Gordon County and say, “Okay, Jimbo get over here and drive us home.”
Excitedly, I’d slide across the seat and take my place behind the wheel. I had actually started driving years earlier, sitting in his lap, steering the old white Ford while he manipulated the gas and brake, but once I could sit on the edge of the seat, see over the dash, and reach the pedals with my toes I was on my own.
I’d check my side mirror and then slowly pull out into the road and head towards home. Initially, I’d get the truck centered in my lane and then hold the steering wheel as still as possible, but inevitably there were curves and hills, uneven lanes, and even ruts in the road all of which forced me to input corrections with the steering wheel. At first I’d turn the steering wheel too much. I overcorrected, but Pa came to my rescue. “You’re turning too much,” he’d say, “Just put a little in and take it out, a little in and take it out.” I soon learned that I didn’t ever truly hold the steering wheel still. I was always ever so slightly moving it back and forth. I also found that the sooner I saw the need for correction the better off I was – early detection and anticipation were key to keeping me in my lane.
Later in life, while attending flight school I learned this principle again. During the instrument phase of training I was taught to fly an imaginary line between two navigational beacons. If we were in the clouds we had no visual references, only our instruments. Inevitably, turbulence was encountered and strong wings blew us off our intended course. The slower I reacted to the winds the further off course I was blown and thus a more drastic course correction was required. In time I learned to recognize the winds quickly and to never let them blow me far off course. We were taught to constantly scan our instruments and make small corrections as we drifted off course.
The other key to success was to trust the instruments. A pilot’s body and mind can play tricks on him when he can’t see mother earth. We had to place our faith in what we were seeing on the instrument panel.
And so it is with our lives. Life is filled with hills and curves, dips and ruts, winds and turbulence. The sooner we identify them the easier it is to correct our course. Constant monitoring and tiny course corrections are the key to remaining on the path. Once we’re in the ditch the situation usually calls for a wrecker.
There are so many things trying to blow us off course today. Life is filled with seemingly insurmountable challenges, yet we must maintain hope and faith. We must strive daily to remain on course. Taking inventory of our lives and making small but necessary course corrections will keep us on the road we desire to travel. Hope you had a great weekend recharging your physical and spiritual batteries. May your week be a happy one.