Our Walk Around Inspection
By John Kunkle, Hispanic Ministries USA and former pilot withWings of Peace, Bolivia
When I was in training for service with Wings of Peace in Bolivia, I was privileged to have flown with a man named Paul Dye, an instructor serving with the New Tribes Mission Aviation training center in McNeal, Arizona. One day during my training, Paul said, “Today you are going to make an electronic checklist.” Paul showed me the necessary tools and I quickly finished the project. It was one of the highlights of my training because I had a means of keeping a checklist of critical procedures that needed to be accomplished for the safe take-off and landing phases of each flight.
As Christians, we can also follow a checklist prior to boarding each day. Here is an abbreviated checklist from an average airplane preflight “walk-around” and how it resembles our Christian walk.
- Engine: How do we maintain that quality oil in our spiritual engines for maximum power and efficiency? By prayerfully seeking the renewal and cleansing of the Holy Spirit and reading the Bible.
- Wings: They are the main source of lift and contain the ailerons and flaps.
a. The ailerons (the narrow, hinged panels near the wing tips) roll the plane from side to side. Do we have our spiritual controls moving freely and correctly to keep us on course?
b. The flaps are large, adjustable panels that lower at the back of the main wing on each side to provide drag for slower flight upon landing. In spiritual terms, we need self-control and patience in our lives to help us slow down and be able to see what God is doing around us.
- Tail: The tail is made up of the rudder and elevators which help keep the plane in stable flight.
a. Rudder: This panel at the back of the vertical stabilizer rotates the plane from side to side, providing correct turning forces that coordinate with the roll of the plane in a turn. In other words, the rudder keeps the passengers from feeling like they are on a roller coaster! In our spiritual lives, without proper coordination with God, we can be out of control and at times feel like we are in a spiritual “slip!” (The term “slip” refers to the lack of rudder pressure applied by the pilot in the direction of the turn in coordination with the ailerons.)
b. Elevator: Possibly the most important control on the airplane—it determines the up or down “attitude” of the airplane. If you don’t have the elevator “trimmed” just right, you can be fighting the controls to exhaustion and possible loss of control. Spiritually speaking, if you don’t have your life trimmed with the right attitude, you will be in a constant battle to reach the levels to which God wants to take your life. You’ll need to “adjust your attitude to gain proper altitude.”
- Global Positioning System: This modern marvel has saved many lives, including my own. GPS instrumentation has allowed pilots (and their wives) the peace of mind to relieve much of the extra stress encountered when flying over rugged jungle terrain.
We also depended on what my dad, Joe Kunkle, referred to as God’s Prayer System for our safety while flying; the vast network of praying people like you who kept our lives and ministry before God’s throne. Prayer is vital to our existence as missionaries.
- Fuel tanks, fuel, and filters: The only way to get the engine to run right is to have the right kind and amount of fuel for the flight.
Our spiritual fuel tanks must also be kept filled and ready for flight. Any sin condensation or worldly dirt in our tanks that is not removed will cause our lives to come to a complete stop, resulting in a very hard landing or crash.
- Weight and balance: We must make sure the plane is within its proper weight and balance limits for safe flight. If not, you won’t be able to lift off the ground. We also need to keep our lives balanced with family, church, work, and rest to be able to stay within the operating limits that God has set for us.
- Instruments: We need to keep our instruments set to the correct settings for critical phases of the flight. Hebrews 11:2 reminds us: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…”(NIV).
Still, the Christian walk is not simply a checklist. Our walk with Christ is a product of the reconciliation of God to man through Jesus Christ, and a growing, living relationship with our heavenly Father by the power of the Holy Spirit living within us. Let’s make every walk-around inspection of our spiritual airplane consistent every day.