Ever since I was a navigator and an aircraft performance engineer in the U.S. Air Force and a few years later came into God's true Church, I have been intrigued by the physical analogy of both those endeavors to the spiritual calling God has given to His people.
Each flight we flew was called a mission; and, today, we are constantly reminded of the mission of the Church. We even have a mission statement.
A navigator's job is to guide the aircraft to its destination in spite of all the obstacles along the way. And the aircraft performance engineer's job is to be sure all systems function in the most efficient way to be sure the plane has sufficient fuel and power to reach the destination. Being in the Strategic Air Command, our mission was to be ever poised and ready to fight against an "evil empire" threatening to overtake the world. I'm sure these terms have a familiar ring to anyone in God's Church today.
Navigating the Course
To illustrate this analogy, let's consider the work of the aircraft navigator. For a mission he takes the map, called an aeronautical chart, and draws a line on it from the point of departure to the destination. This line is called the true course. It is the course he wants the aircraft to follow, but there are several obstacles that he will invariably have to deal with to keep the aircraft on course.
All his calculations are based on true north, but his magnetic compass does not point to true north. Two factors throw it off as much as 8 degrees. One is called "variation," which changes with the magnetic fields in each geographical location. Lines are plotted on the chart showing the degrees plus or minus that must be adjusted on the magnetic compass. The second thing is called "deviation," which is the deflecting of the compass due to magnetic influences within the aircraft itself. These factors are known, and the navigator can compensate for them.
The unknown factor is the wind that will be encountered, which is seldom constant throughout the mission, and may vary up to 360 degrees along the course. The navigator has to take a fix every so many minutes to find his true position.
The Bible is our magnetic compass and the different translations and Bible helps each have their variations and deviations requiring correction. For example, the Scofield Reference Bible is a good study Bible, but Scofield believes in the "Rapture Theory," which can be easily disproved. We need to take note of these types of variations or they will throw us off course.
So let's say you have prepared to embark on the spiritual flight to God's Kingdom. You have plotted your true course from wherever you are now to God's Kingdom. You have adjusted your magnetic compass so that it points to true north. You have asked for the full power of the Holy Spirit received at baptism, you have lifted off and are on your way to God's Kingdom.
Now, because the wind, or in our case, "the prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2), is doing all he can to blow you off course, how can you be sure you stay on your true course? (In 1995 he succeeded in blowing many off course by enticing them to forsake God's laws.)
Meditating to Find Our True Position
The way true Christians stay on course is to take a spiritual fix to determine their position often and then to make any course corrections necessary to get back on true course. The navigator calls these alter headings. Periodic meditation helps us determine our true position and enables us to stay on course to the Kingdom. We pause and look at where we are spiritually versus where we should be and then correct our course to head directly toward the Kingdom.
We have the knowledge, the tools and the power (the Holy Spirit) to make it to our destination, the Kingdom of God, but we don't know how much, or how subtly, we are being blown off course. Now is a good time to begin the habit of meditating often to stay on our course to the Kingdom.
The authors of the Psalms speak often of meditation. "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night" (Psalm 1:1-2).
Notice that throughout the Bible a Christian's life is referred to as a "walk" or a "journey" led by God. A Christian also meditates day and night, not just occasionally during the year, showing that we should meditate often.
The reward for staying on course is a prosperous and abundant life, especially spiritually: "He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season; whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper" (Psalm 1:3) .
In Psalm 5:1, David's prayer for guidance begins: "Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation," and in verse 8 he says: "Lead me, O LORD, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; make Your way straight before my face."
In Psalm 19:12-13 David asks God: "Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression." The next verse of this beautiful Psalm shows that these thoughts originated in David's meditation and his desire to be on his true course.
In Psalm 63:5-8 David said: "My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips. When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches... My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me." Notice he follows God very closely through meditation.
David stayed on course through meditation much of his life, but when he didn't make course corrections, the "prince of the power of the air" was able to blow him way off course, as in the time he numbered Israel or in the affair with Bathsheba. Had he meditated regularly through these times, he would not have made these mistakes and the prophet would not have had to come and correct his path.
Meditation on God's laws of love, with the needed course corrections, is the way to constantly stay on course to the Kingdom. Paul tells Timothy to do this: "Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity... Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you" (1 Timothy 4:12, 15-16).
Navigators often determine their true position by celestial navigation, because the stars are fixed in their position in the sky. They take a reading on two or three stars using a sextant, and where the resulting lines cross on the chart is their true position.
In determining our true spiritual position, we need to take a reading on only one star, the Bright and Morning Star. "I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star" (Revelation 22:16).
This Star is forever fixed in the universe. We need to continually ask ourselves, "How does my life compare to this Star? Am I on track, or do I need to make a course correction, an alter heading?" Frequent meditation helps us stay on a true course to God's Kingdom. UN