Every time I step inside a plane, there is a sense of awe and wonder that envelope me. Ever since I was a kid, I have always dreamed of flying. I remember being mesmerized with the superheroes that can fly because if I can have any superpower, it would be that. So it’s no surprise there is a sense of giddiness I get even just at the thought of traveling by plane.
It was New Year’s Day and there I was, sitting 30,000 feet above the ground when the Holy Spirit nudged me to contemplate the law of flight. As I look out the window, I couldn’t help but think about how significant this actually is as I look back on 2020 and as I enter to 2021. So let’s deconstruct how the law of flight works.
The Science of Flight
The law of flight is made possible because of tension. There are four forces that are always acting on an aircraft: they are thrust (forward), drag (rearward), lift (up), and weight (down). Each of these forces creates tensions that must be held in balance for flight to be made possible.
Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Managing those forces and their equal and opposite reactions to each other is how a pilot makes an aircraft break free of gravity, then maintain control.
Gravity is always there. It doesn’t change. That’s the one constant in the whole equation. But what the pilot has control over is the plane.This made me think: gravity is to flight what conflict is to our rising.
Conflict is for Rising
As I look back to the year 2020 and even a few months before that, to say we have experienced a few conflicts in our lives is an understatement; even in my own life.
From the death of my grandpa, my dad’s stroke, me getting laid off from work, my car getting totaled, house renovations, and among other things; to seeing our community experience some wildfires, racial tension and political division rise within our nation and the church rise as well as go through and still going through a pandemic.
It’s one thing to list the things that have happened, it’s another to experience all of those in one year's time. And will we escape the weight of its impact? I don’t think it will. And we shouldn’t expect to. Like gravity constantly pushing us down, life circumstances have a way of consistently coming towards us giving way to resistance testing our resolve.
Yet, with the grace of God, we flew. We rose above the forces that weighed us down and we caught air. We faced forward against the wind with wings wide open and defied the gravity of our circumstances.
You are the Pilot
One thing I am learning about humanity is that we are more resilient than we realize, stronger than we know, and more than conquerors than we’ve led to believe. While the events of 2020 still loom over us, you as the pilot of your life took it upon yourself to maintain self-control and balance the tensions that were thrown before you.
For that, I applaud you.
I applaud your resilience to rise and to let whatever came to strengthen your resolve. I celebrate your partnership with the Holy Spirit to strengthen you with power in your inner being. And I bless you to continue on defying the impossible because you trust that the breath of heaven is fueling your every way of being.
The reality is that we have way more capacity for self-control than we’ve tapped into and if there’s anything that 2020 is able to teach us, it’s that. I know at least for me. In a way, 2020 made my childhood dream a reality of flying, and it’s something that I will take as I enter the rest of 2021. I hope you do too.
Now if you are still growing on how to hold the forces outside of you (life circumstances) and the world inside of you (emotion, thoughts, feelings) in proper tension, you just might need more practice or training. Just like a pilot who needs hours and hours of practice and training in order to learn how to control an aircraft, you must also invest a bit more time and energy into yourself.
Here’s a great way to start.
I call this the Law of Rising and it mirrors the four forces that make flying possible. I believe when these are held in proper balance, just like a pilot breaking free from gravity and maintain control, you can break free from conflict and maintain self-control.
Elevate (practice gratitude)
There’s a reason why thankfulness is one of the most sought practices in the areas of health. Thankfulness changes your way of being. Medical research now shows that practicing gratitude and thankfulness changes your physiology, your emotion, the way you feel and think. Gratitude can change how you see the world.
Lean (embrace conflict)
This one takes intentionality. You have to pay attention to the conflict that comes and how it is affecting you internally. Lean into it and address it. But where the practice comes is holding the tension between staying in gratitude while addressing conflict. Don’t be afraid of conflict. Start small and give Grace to yourself. Begin where you know you can handle it with joy.
Honor (redeemed history)
Honoring your history begins by redeeming it not ignoring it. There’s a reason the Israelites were commanded to build memorial stones. Memorial stones served as an anchor and a reminder of what God had done on their behalf. They were a tribe that had been redeemed after 400 years of slavery. That is something that needed to be honored and celebrated in their heritage as a people. What are moments in your past that still need redeeming? Ask the Lord how He wants to redeem it so you can honor it as a memorial stone. Your trauma can become a trigger for triumph instead of pain.
Faith (hopeful future)
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen. Another word for unseen is imagination or vision. There’s another scripture that says how God’s people perish because they lack vision. Ask the Lord to bring into your imagination a vision of the future that He wants to make manifest in partnership with you. Anchor into that promise. When God gave the Israelites a promised land, a destination they can anchor to as they traversed through the wilderness, He was creating a hope within them to anticipate that good is coming.
Johnston, Matthew – Newton’s Third Law in Aviation