I recently read an article about a pilot trying to earn his “Night Rating Certification.” (Here’s the link) He wanted to learn and earn the opportunity to takeoff, fly, and land safely at night. To earn his certification, he needed to do some extra training flights with a flight instructor.
It seems logical that flying at night and during the day requires a different level of awareness, discernment, and ability. So many obvious visual cues are not so obvious when “the lights go out,” which makes flying much more hazardous. Just think about walking around your house in the middle of the night, except that a stubbed toe is replaced by a fiery plane crash.
Not only is basic point-to-point navigation more difficult at night, but it is also easier to get disoriented in the darkness. Our human senses are not as useful in the darkness so when piloting a plane at night or in a dark cloud it is easy to lose your sense of direction and your “horizon line.” That loss of perception while piloting a plane can have fatal consequences.
On Sunday, we talked about some of Jesus’ final words while hanging on thecross, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” Jesus spoke these words towards the end of 3 full hours of complete mid-day darkness. In his Gospel, Luke writes, “while the sun’s light failed” (23:45) from noon to 3 o’clock in the afternoon. (Click here to watch/listen to the message)
Throughout Scripture darkness represents God’s judgement and/or the absence of God’s presence. One could argue that either one of those two things would be equally horrible to experience. God’s judgement is the consequence of failing to live up to the standard we were created into (that being the standard of Christ). Since God is the ultimate source of all things good, the absence of God means the absence of all good things…love, hope, compassion, joy, peace, etc.
So, while hanging on the cross being publicly humiliated and physically tortured, Jesus EXPERIENCED the darkness of God’s absence while bearing the judgement for all the sins of humanity for all time.
Have you ever felt like God was absent?
As if He was nowhere near you?
As if He had abandoned you and left you in the “darkness”?
It is important to note that Jesus actually EXPERIENCED the absence of God so that, even though we may FEEL it, we don’t have to EXPERIENCE it for ourselves!
Even while experiencing humiliation, physical torture, and ultimate judgement…all while God was actually absent…Jesus still praised God.
The words, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”
were not necessarily a cry of defeat or despair.
Psalm 22 was a worship song of the Israelites that reminded them that God is ever-present, victorious, and worthy of praise even in the midst of hardship, trials, and tribulation. In the midst of the absolute worst hardship, trial, or tribulation anyone has ever experienced, Jesus recited the opening stanza of this well-known worship song praising God for always being present and victorious.
To His dying breath on the cross, Jesus continued to be our ultimate example of HOW to live the greatest life we could ever possibly live.
He did NOT surrender to the darkness.
He was NOT questioning God’s faithfulness in the darkness He was experiencing.
Without the context of Psalm 22, His words seem to do just that.
However, even in the absolute darkness,
Jesus held onto what He KNEW,
not on only what He could SEE or FEEL.
A pilot flying at night doesn’t have the visual cues they have during the daylight, and the darkness messes with their natural senses and perceptions. Pilots must learn to trust what their instruments are telling them, not their thoughts and feelings while in the darkness. Jesus showed us what His “instruments” were telling Him. The instrument of God’s Word, both the printed and the life of Jesus, tells us that God has not, does not, and will not abandon us. God has promised (Deuteronomy 31:6) and God is faithful to His promises!
That pilot I first starting writing about wrote in his reflection, “…navigating during the day where there are plenty of ground references no longer exists during the darkness of night.” In order to arrive at his intended destination safely, “the instructor had to point it [the destination] out for me! It was really hard to find…I guess that is the reason I have an instructor sitting in the right hand seat.”
If I am learning to fly a plane in the darkness
I don’t want just some hack sitting “in the right hand seat.”
I want the best, most experienced instructor in that seat!
So…who is “in the right hand seat” of your life?
We have One who is willing to be there. He has offered His services. He has truly EXPERIENCED what it means to navigate in the darkness and He saved all of us in the process.
He is ready, willing, and able.
So…what are you going to do?
Are you going to accept His offer to show you how to navigate through the darkness in your life and lead you to your best possible ultimate destination?
Remember, Jesus is the ultimate gentleman. He will never force Himself upon you. He simply offers you all His love, compassion, forgiveness, and mercy. He then gives you the freedom to accept or decline His offer to sit “in the right hand seat” of your life to instruct and guide you to the best life you could ever live.