keep your eyes on the prize

So we’ve heard that there are so many people testing positive with Swine Flu here in TO, that they’ve stopped testing. The vaccine is a little too late! And Sam has just heard that one of his classmates who has the same symptoms as he, has tested positive for It, though he’s only had a slight fever, and is now improving… though Rej sure caught it quickly from him. The Mom is still fine… TOUCH WOOD!! Anyway, it’s just a flu, isn’t it? Still, good thing Crystal & Christine (hey–that’s what she should call the twins! Christine is Crystal’s mom)–good thing they decided not to stop by here on the way to/from the doctor’s appointment!

Now something to make you laugh. It was just TOO hard to pick out bits from the article, so we’re copying the whole thing for you. It’s Max talking about a flying experience.

“I’m Sinking Fast”
by Max Lucado

Before the flight I’m a midlife version of Tom Cruise in Top Gun: wearing an air force helmet, a flight suit, and a smile the size of a watermelon slice. After the flight Top Gun is undone. I’m as pale as bleached bone. I list to the side, and my big smile has flattened as straight as the tarmac on which we just landed. Chalk the change up to sixty minutes of acrobatics at ten thousand feet.

I occupied the cockpit seat directly behind Lt. Col. Tom McClain. One month shy of retirement he invited me to join him on an orientation flight. The invitation came complete with

• a preflight physical (in which I was measured for the ejection seat);
• a safety briefing (in which I practiced pulling the handle for the ejection seat);
• a few moments hanging in the harness of a training para- chute (simulating how I would return to earth after any activation of the ejection seat).

Message to air force public relations: any way to scale down the ejection-seat discussion? Turns out we didn’t use it. No small accomplishment since we dived, rose, and dived again, sometimes with a vertical velocity of ten thousand feet per minute. Can you picture a roller coaster minus the rails? We flew in tandem with another T-6. At one point the two wingtips were separated by seven feet. I don’t like to get that close to another person in the shopping mall.

Here’s what one hour of aerial somersaults taught me:

• Fighter pilots are underpaid. I have no clue what their salary is, but it’s not enough. Anyone willing to protect his country at 600 mph deserves a bonus.
• G’s are well named. Funny, I thought the phrase “pulling g’s” had to do with gravitational pull against your body. It actually describes the involuntary sound a minister emits during a 360-degree rollover: “G-G-G-Geee!”
• The call sign of the pilot is stenciled on the back of his helmet.

They have such great call signs: Iceman. Buff. Hatchet. Mine was Max. Pretty cool, huh? Col. McClain responds to T-Mac. It appears on the back of his helmet just above the collar line. I know this well. For fifty of the sixty minutes, I stared at his name. I read it forward, then backward, counted the letters, and created an acrostic: T-M-A-C. Tell Me About Christ. I couldn’t stomach looking anywhere else. The horizon kept bouncing. So did the instrument panel. Closing my eyes only increased the nausea. So I stared at T-Mac. After all, he was the one with nearly six thousand hours of flight time!

Six thousand hours! He’s spent more time flying planes than I’ve spent eating pizza, a thought that occurred to me as I began regretting my dinner from the night before. Six thousand hours! The equivalent of eight months’ worth of twenty-four-hour days in the air, time enough to circumnavigate the globe 143 times. No wonder he was smiling when we boarded. This sortie was a bike ride on training wheels. I actually heard him humming during a near-vertical bank turn.

Didn’t take me long to figure out where to stare. No more looking down or out. My eyes were on the pilot. If T-Mac was okay, I was okay. I know where to stare in turbulence.

Peter learned the same lesson the hard way…

[Remember how Peter stepped out to try and walk on the water like Jesus was, took one step, but then looked around at the waves & clouds instead of at Jesus.]

Walk to Rivendell:  We come to a sudden cliff, into the valley of Rivendell.


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