Girlfriends in God - Jan. 14, 2009

January 14, 2009 
The Problem with Sight 
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth 
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Psalms 119:105 (NIV)

Friend To Friend 
On July 16, 1999, John F Kennedy, Jr., his wife, Carolyn Bessette, and his sister-in-law, Lauren Bessette, met their death in a watery grave in the Atlantic Ocean.  John was piloting their single engine aircraft and was only a few miles from their destination of Martha’s Vineyard when something went terribly wrong

The plane left New York City en route to a family gathering in Massachusetts in the dark of night, and while crossing a thirty-mile stretch of water to make its final decent, the plane began a series of erratic maneuvers.  John’s descent varied between 400 and 800 feet per minute, about seven miles from shore.  The plane began an erratic series of turns, descents and climbs.  Its final decent eventually exceeded 4700 fpm and the airplane nose-dived into the ocean.  Other pilots flying similar routes on the night of the accident reported no visual horizon while flying over the water because of haze. They couldn’t see a thing. The watery grave swallowed the plane and the three passengers on board. (

One pilot explained that John most likely experienced the “Black Hole” syndrome.  Pilots of small engine planes use the horizon as a reference point.  However, John lost visual sight of the horizon and his eyes gave the brain no clue as to which way was up and which way was down.  In this situation, if an airplane should turn slightly or nose down slightly, the body’s inner ear compensates to make the pilot believe he’s flying straight and level.  If for some reason the pilot makes another correction, he can make a bad decision worse. (www/           

John was not flying under Instrument Flight Rules, but rather Visual Flight Rules.  That means that he was not trained to use the instrument panel properly, but simply learned how to fly by sight alone.  When he could not see the horizon due to hazy conditions, John became disoriented and his mind lost its sense of perspective and direction.  He had what we commonly call vertigo and the flight pattern showed all the evidence of “mind wobbling and tortured confusion.” (  Heart Over Mind: the Death of JFK, Jr. by Eric Nolte) While John had all the instruments on board for a safe landing, he did not know how to use them.

One pilot explained John’s vertigo and disorientation this way, “And here is the crux of the matter; the pilot’s emotions drowned out the flight instrument’s story about banking and diving at high speed, and screamed out, “No Way! It can’t be!  I’m actually flying straight and level!  I know it!”

John’s instruments told him that his wings were tilted (flying sideways), but he felt that he was right-side-up.  A skilled instrument flyer knows he can’t rely on his feelings and has the ability to regain control of the airplane by depending on the instruments.  Instructors call this lifesaving skill “recovery from unusual attitudes.”  “The real skill of instrument flying is truly depending on the instrument’s readings rather than your feelings.  Recovery from ‘unusual attitudes’ consists of one essential belief:  your feelings cannot be trusted as the final authority on what the airplane is doing.  Your mind is the boss.  The instruments are your window on reality and you desperately need to understand the data they provide.”

Friend, I hope you are tracking with me.  This isn’t just about flying an airplane; this is about maneuvering through life! John had everything he needed to make a safe landing right there on the instrument panel in front of him.  He had the resources available for a safe landing, but he didn’t know how to use them. John chose to rely on his feelings rather than the facts. His feelings lied.  He died.

We have the opportunity right before us to learn how to fly through the storms of life with limited visibility.  We can maneuver safely through unexpected turbulence and relational malfunctions.  God has given us the tools to avoid becoming disoriented and going into a tailspin or nose-dive.  His Word is the Truth that guides us through the inky soup of life when the horizon is nowhere in sight.  His Word is the instrument panel.  However, if we rely on our feelings we won’t know which way is up and which way is down.

This new year, let’s purpose to learn the instrument panel (God’s Word) and stop flying by sight alone.  Then we’ll have smooth take offs and safe landings, even in the turbulence of life.

Let’s Pray 
Dear Heavenly Father, Your Word tells us that You have given us everything we need for a life of godliness and truth.  Help me to walk in the light of Your truth and not to stumble around with my limited sight.

In Jesus’ name, 

Now It’s Your Turn 
Read the following verses and note how living in the truth affects your life.  Give an example of each.  

  • Psalm 40:11  
    • Psalm 43:3  
      • John 8:32  

        More From The Girlfriends 
        Ready for some flying lessons so that you can soar? Want to learn more about the instrument panel of God’s Truth that will guide you in the darkest of times?  Then you’ll want to check out Sharon’s new book, I’m Not Good Enough…and Other Lies Women Tell Themselves, to see the important role that knowing and believing the Truth plays in abundant living. 

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Originally published Wednesday, 14 January 2009.