An Accidental Pilot

Ever wake up one day and wonder how in the world you ended up where you are? Did your life turn out differently than you thought or hoped it would? Maybe better, maybe not as good as you’d hoped?

Our lives take turns we don’t expect sometimes. I can testify to the truth in that statement.

Matthew and I have been married for over twenty-two years so one might think that I would have heard all of my father-in-law’s stories. The man has some stories. But I sat with him at dinner recently and heard one, that somehow, I had not heard before. And it was a good one.

I had asked Paul, who had been a Navy pilot, if he had always wanted to be a pilot. He cocked his head to the side, and with a smile and a gleam in his eye, he said, “No. Have you not heard that story before?”

Here it is. Well, the abridged version. Did I mention Paul has some stories?

He had finished one year of college when he and a friend decided rather than going back to college, they’d join the Navy. Ah, the split second decisions of youth. The first time Paul had ever seen a plane was when he climbed aboard the one that took him far away from home to join the Navy and start boot camp.

It was during those early weeks of boot camp that he heard about the Navy’s new nuclear submarine program. Paul was always fairly adept at math and science, and the subject intrigued him. He inquired about it, and was told he could take an exam to test his aptitude for the subject.

On the day of the exam, he entered the testing room, took a seat, and was handed the exam booklet. He couldn’t figure out what any of the questions had to do with submarines. He raised his hand to ask about it, but the officer in charge told him to hush and take the test. He did.

But he had taken the wrong test. He had gone into the wrong room. His exam for nuclear submarines was in another room sitting there untaken. However, he must have done well on the exam he did take for before too long, he was assigned to the Navy Cadet Program that would lead to flight training.

The test he had taken was for future Navy pilot hopefuls.

He tried to explain to whomever would listen, but he was destined to fly…. Not submerge.

He did eventually get to take the submarine exam, and was offered the choice of going to flight school or going into the nuclear submarine training. In the end, he chose flight training.

I’m glad he did. My life would be far different if he had not. He would not have met my mother-in-law, and my husband would not have been born. Paul had an idea that nuclear subs sounded interesting, but God wanted Paul to soar.

The Bible teaches us that,

“The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” Psalm 37:23

I’ve never heard a better story of the Lord stepping in and changing the course of a life than that one. But those stories are too numerous to count in the lives of those who love Jesus.

We each have a destiny, a unique purpose on the earth. Sometimes we need a nudge from His hand to keep us heading in the direction He chooses. Sometimes the nudge is uncomfortable. Sometimes we walk through barren places on our way to fulfilling our purpose.

But take a look at verse 24 of Psalm 37:

“Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.”

He is with us, walking beside us, leading us by the hand so that we will not stumble. I believe the Lord had Paul by the hand the day he took the wrong exam, and every day since.

So what do you think?

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