Course Correction30 September, 2021
One thing many people don’t know about me is my dream job to be a pilot. Although the bubble was burst after I failed the Air Force medical test, my current role as a pastor puts me in contact with all kinds of pilots. I’ve learnt many life lessons from them, and course correction is one essential skill that can save us in navigating these perilous times.
Midcourse correction is defined as a navigational correction made in the course of a ship, airplane, rocket, or space vehicle at some point between the beginning and end of the journey. Commercial flying is so sophisticated that a pre-programmed autopilot function now does most of a pilot’s work. That’s great for efficiency but, the more a pilot relies on autopilot, the more he or she loses the actual flying skills.
You’d be surprised how many plane crashes occur because the autopilot disengages and the pilot wasn’t ready or equipped to fly without it. This applies to our lives as well. If you go on autopilot in any area – marriage, family, business, work or your spiritual life – you’ll soon lose essential skills. That puts you in a dangerous place. People can get severely hurt if a plane goes down. Likewise, if you value the lives of those ‘on board’ – your family or your own life, pay attention.
Proverbs 16:9 says, ‘A man’s heart devises his way, but the Lord directs his steps.’ In other words, we can plan but the Lord makes course corrections. Too often, we’ve a very limited mindset about the role of the Holy Spirit. We hear that He came to convict us of sin. True, but there’s more. The rest of that verse says ‘and of righteousness’ (John 16:8).
The Holy Spirit, as God’s voice, reveals our sins but, even more importantly, guides us in righteousness – right living, right thinking – and making the right decisions. The Bible has many examples of course correction. I love the familiar story of Jonah. ‘The Word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time’ in Jonah 3:1.
How many times does the Lord’s Word come to you before you hear and obey? It’s good that God understands our nature as He often sends the ‘same word’ multiple times. Does that happen to you like it does me? But God understands that course corrections are hard. It’s hard to start a new career, it’s hard to start a good habit, etc.
Starting over and anew are the hardest parts, but God has His way of giving us a little help. For Jonah, God sent a storm and a fish to correct his course. But. once we get His message and receive correction, He carries us. Course correction may be needed not just for errors or tragedy ahead. It may be obvious but the very idea that course correction is possible implies there’s more than one avenue to your destination.
Adapting your plans to ever-changing environments and conditions does not necessarily mean you’ve made an error. It’s important not to treat failure as a dead end – it is a fork in the road. What you choose to do afterwards will ultimately end up defining you.
Pencils have erasers as everyone makes mistakes and bad decisions. To err is human; therefore, a most important skill to develop is course correction. Real change, however, requires not a one-time assessment and a new course to follow, but a constant and consistent measurement and real-time course correction. – Christianity Today
Paul is another good example. On the road to Damarcus, Saul had a dramatic course correction – he was convicted of his sin and repented. That defining moment changed the entire course of his life 180 degrees, from being Saul to Paul, from persecutor to protector of the Early Church.
The Holy Spirit convicted Paul of his sin and guided him in righteousness. In Acts 16, the Holy Spirit forbade Paul to go north or south into Phrygia, Galatia, Asia, or Bithynia (Acts 16:6-8). He was to go west to preach in Macedonia (Acts 16:9-10). This is the Holy Spirit closing the door twice to Paul. Why? Because the Spirit guides us to the right places.
Your Heavenly Father wants you to succeed. He desires your path to be straight and to reach your destination. The Holy Spirit is the One who guides us correctly. He softly whispers, “Turn this way. Go that way.” He makes course corrections. In your walk with Jesus, pay attention to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. Commit to listen for His course corrections. Don’t wait till life is a mess and things are out of control to pay attention to the Holy Spirit.
Quite often, a very small course correction will avert and prevent tragedy. And remember – God is for you. He’s not keeping score. If you’re off track, even way off course, He’s a loving Father waiting patiently with open arms. He lovingly desires to help adjust your direction and get back on track.
Maybe you haven’t been ‘flying’ in a straight line and can’t even see tomorrow. Stop and listen for His voice. He’s speaking. Heed His course corrections and you’ll reach your destination.
“I am Yahweh, your God. I am the One who teaches you how to succeed and who leads you step by step in the way you should go.” Isaiah 48:17
Pastor Timothy Chong