Surviving Spiritual Vertigo*
When I was training to be a pilot, one of the things I had to learn was to fly the airplane by sole reference to its instruments. It was difficult for me to imagine, before experiencing it, the sensation of being able to tell which way is up. But inside of a cloud, with the way that forces are exerted, it can be impossible to know that very thing. When you first enter a cloud it’s easy. But that easiness is short lived as your orientation quickly becomes confused. You find yourself staring at your instruments because there is no helpful information outside the window. The only life saving information available is those six little gauges.
This is all well and good, but then you begin to develop a phenomenon known as vertigo as your inner sensations begin to disagree with what your instruments are telling you. Couple that with a fear instilled into you in training that teaches you to ever be suspicious of your instruments, and to continually crosscheck them so as to not allow a bad instrument to cost you your life. The fear can become intense, and you own life, no less, hangs in the balance.
So there you are, alone in a cloud. You can’t trust your senses, and on top of that you are skeptical of your instruments also. Your heart races. You are fighting panic. You realize that your life depends on thinking straight, ignoring your feelings and crosschecking your instruments. Yes, these are the sensations in the beginning, but that all changes as experience is gained. With the passing of time vertigo becomes a novelty. For me it became a thing that caused amusement, but which is easily ignored.
I have found that these truths concerning instrument flying have easily transfer over to my spiritual life. As a young Christian I loved my new life. But then I would hear things that would threaten my new beliefs. I can remember watching a television show on PBS about the Bible. It, of course, was from a secular humanist’s perspective, and it almost shipwrecked my faith as a new believer. There were also questions that I would encounter, specifically designed in hell for someone with a not-so-renewed mind. All of these gave me that same feeling spiritually as vertigo gave me physically… not knowing which way was up.
You will discover, if you indeed have a reference point, that the culture you are living in is spinning out of control. The “pilots” have destroyed their instruments and are flying by “the seat of their pants”, doing what “seems right to them” (Pr 14:12) at a given time. Their reference point is the inside of their “airplane”, that is, the airplane could be up side down, and they are satisfied that, “up” is still toward the ceiling. But you don’t have to live that way. The scriptures tell us that “His word is a lamp to our feet and a light unto our path“. But we must trust His word; trust it with our very lives, and as if eternity itself were hanging in the balance, because it is. I can tell you that it won’t always be easy, especially in your young lives. But I can also tell you that the older you get, the more everything will make sense, and “flying” by the scriptures will easily deliver you safely through the fog of confusion to your destination.
I pray that you learn to love the scriptures, and that you would trust them. I also pray that you would grow up into maturity that easily sees right through the nonsense that is currently passing itself off as wisdom, and that you would teach your own children from their youngest years to do the same.