Life from the rear-view mirror

I used to be Superman….Vol 67

November 19, 2013 | 2 Comments

From about 15 through my twenties, I used to think I was bulletproof. I guess maybe all guys do to some degree…until we get hurt.

Broken leg, broken nose…broken heart….it doesn’t matter the hurt. When we are hurt… we are vulnerable.

Vulnerability reorders our universe (the same universe that has been happily spinning around our navel since we were born…)

Vulnerability triggers some pretty scary stuff in us. Some pretty dangerous stuff as well. But vulnerability  also opens us up to hear God from a place of desperation and new perspective…which can be very good.

I’m a pilot. The most fun I ever had in an airplane was in a Pitts S-2B.  PittsIt was the summer of 1986. I was a fairly new pilot and decided that an aerobatics course would improve my skills…and be a heck of a lot of fun at the same time. I asked around and found a Pitts S-2B with a very capable instructor at Hicks Airport, not far from my home base.  I drove out and met Sandy, my instructor. We talked about the course, the cost…and of course, the Pitts. (It was just like the one to the left but in green.) The day came for the first lesson. I showed up dressed in my green mil spec Nomex flight suit with my David Clark headset and walked to the plane with Sandy to do the preflight.

The Pitts is all motor. It can get to 5000 ft faster than a Learjet from take off. The roll rate is spectacular and there is enough power to do believable vertical maneuvers.  I couldn’t wait to start this little beast to see if I could just keep up with the airplane…let alone really fly it. (Sandy was quite sure I could do neither…and she was right!)

These sport planes look small from the outside…and they are. But to fly them you sort of wear them. Like…there isn’t a lot of room in the cockpit under normal conditions. Throw the instructor in the back and put a 240 lb  guy in the front seat with a chute and it goes from full to overflowing.  Anyway… we both got in, got settled and went through the checklist. Five minutes later Sandy cranked up that 6 cyl, 400hp motor and we enjoyed the prop wash blowing back over us in the 95 degree Texas heat. We taxi’d out to the single active runway with the canopy still open. Once at the end of the runway we buttoned her up…did the run-up and let traffic in the area know we were launching. Sandy lined up the little plane and closed the throttle. My head slammed back into the seat and I watched the airspeed needle leap to life. We were airborne in a flash and rocketed skyward at nearly 2700 fpm. When we cleared the pattern Sandy wiggled the stick to let me know it was my turn. She let me get the feel of this mini fighter for a few minutes before we started working. Slow rolls, 4 point rolls, loops, barrel rolls, Cuban 8’s, spins, knife edge, inverted flight. We talked through the maneuver…she demonstrated it with me following her through… then I tried some myself. The first slow roll was pretty good. We won’t talk about the rest of the lesson…By the end of the hour and a half I was starting to turn as green as the color of the plane…but I learned a lot and was looking forward to the remainder of the course.

If I had tried any of those maneuvers in the Cessnas or Pipers I usually flew….I would have torn the wings off and for sure tumbled all the gauges…which means that the gauges that I needed to show me my attitude, altitude and heading would not have worked at all or showed me bad information. The Cessnas and Pipers were simply not built for that kind of flying.

I just took the long way around to say that when a life event like the consequences of personal sin causes our  gauges to tumble…we can lose our way in a hurry. We can no longer rely on what our senses are telling us. It is then we are flying by the “seat of our pants.” That can be very dangerous. Our self-talk becomes a little more frantic, negative and a little incoherent. We start believing the way we feel rather than trusting what we know.  For the believer this can be a fatal error.  But how do we back up and hit reboot. We don’t. We start right from where we are with the next right decision. Whatever that is. Maybe it’s getting right with God, maybe it’s saying no to the joint, the pill. Maybe it’s raising our dating standards. Maybe we put a filter on our computers. The first right decision for the believer is to trust that God is there with you right now. In the situation, in your room, in your head, in your heart. He knows you…he made you…he loves you. And regardless of how you got here…you don’t have to stay here. God may not elect to take you out of the valley but walk with you through it. It might be really hard for a long time and you might get discouraged…but don’t despair. Don’t waste any pain. Please read this:

In the final sermon of the series inspired by his son’s suicide, Rick Warren encouraged people to learn from their struggles and use them as a springboard to love and serve others more.

It has been a difficult five months for Warren since his son, Matthew, took his own life at the age of 27 after a long battle with mental health.

The Purpose Driven Life author took to the pulpit on Sunday to deliver the last installment of his seven-week sermon series, “How to get through what you’re going through.”

Each message in the series focused on the six stages of grief – shock, sorrow, struggle, surrender, sanctification and service.

In Sunday’s sermon, titled “Never Waste Your Pain”, Warren explained that God could use pain to fulfill His purposes in our lives.

“Our deepest life message often comes out of our deepest pain,” he said.

“I can endure pain if I see a purpose in it. But sadly, most people squander their suffering, don’t profit from their problems, never learn from their losses and are unable to advance from their adversity or gain from their pain.”

He pointed out suffering could make believers become more like Christ as He learned obedience through suffering.

In a similar way, he challenged people to use their pain to draw closer to God and to others.

“God didn’t spare Jesus, His only Son from pain; what makes you think He will spare you?” he added.

“The secret of every winner, whether in business, sport, love, finance or relationships, is resilience – the ability to bounce back from setbacks or failure,” Warren continued.

“Winners have the same problems losers do, but they get back up while losers stay down. The secret to a person’s resilience is perspective.”

Most importantly, our personal pain can be channeled to bless others, he contended.

“Don’t waste your pain, let God heal it, recycle it, utilize it and use it to bless other people,” he said. “Use your pain as a model for your message and a witness to the world. But to touch other people, you need to be honest – with God, yourself and others – and you need to be vulnerable.”

Citing 2 Corinthians 1:4 – 6, Warren said he intended to continue sharing with others the same comfort he himself had been given.

Wow! Can we really do that? Can I really do that? Disengage from ourselves and engage God? Even when we don’t understand why? Even when we don’t think we know how?  Even when it hurts…a lot?


There are no magic formulas. It is a daily commitment to take up our cross and follow Christ… no matter what.

Listen…you were never Superman and I was never bulletproof.

But if we know Christ as Savior… we are his kids, so important to him that Christ bought us with his blood.

My father used to say “Doug…don’t borrow trouble”  I’m happy to pass that advice along.

Hey! Are you breathing today?  If so…God is not done with you….


2 people are talking about “I used to be Superman….Vol 67

  1. Outstanding my friend. I too have been learning this lesson. psalm 22 with David crying out to ?God in his pain and frustration at his problems and circumstances, his anger at ?God while at the same time saying he trusts God and wants God to use him.. We’ve travelled some tough roads over the years. Thank you for writing from your heart, and doing it well.

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