A Word of encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford

Sweat trickled down my back as the FAA inspector said to me, “O.K., Mrs. Handford, take us back to Greenville.” I turned the little Cessna 150 southwest back toward home. My flight exam for my private pilot’s license was over. What would be his verdict? Of course I was tense. This man would determine whether I was good enough a pilot to be trusted with others’ lives.

The Greenville Downtown airport is the busiest general aviation airport in South Carolina, so radio communications with the tower that day were very crowded. I had to wait several minutes before I could ask for permission to land. I heard they were using runway 36.

I keyed the mike. “Greenville tower,” I radioed, “Cessna 3601Victor inbound from the east for landing at GMU.”

The controller said, “3601Victor, enter a left base for runway 18.”

Runway 18? But 18 faced south; it was the same as runway 36, but the opposite end. I was confused. If I landed on runway 18, I’d run straight into all the other planes he’d cleared to land on 36. Trying to control the tremor in my voice, I said, “Greenville tower, Cessna 3601Victor, I didn’t hear you well. Please say again.”

“Great call,” the inspector said to me quietly. “You have a right to question any instruction you don’t understand. He’s made a mistake.”

All the planes on the frequency were in peril, so they crowded on the radio to confirm their own instructions. The radio was silent for a moment. Then a new voice came on. Someone had taken charge up in that tower.

He seemed to know where every plane was. He had a clear plan for each of us, what to do and in what order. His voice was deep and authoritative. “3601Victor, enter a right downwind for runway 36. All other aircraft stand by.” Then he gave instructions to each pilot on the frequency, giving clear and precise instructions.

If you’re interested, we all did land safely that day, and the FAA inspector did sign me off for my pilot’s license.

Sometimes, in my life, the panic I felt that day rushes over me again. I don’t know what to do. What should I do? What can I do? It isn’t just the personal problems that threaten my family; it’s the frightening chaos of a world in rebellion against God. Our country is so divided, so alienated, there seems no hope for a workable unity. Conflicts threaten to become world-wide wars. An enemy country threatens an armed nuclear weapon orbiting the earth. Forecasts of world-wide famine and disease linger. The radioed commands we hear from world leaders are garbled, conflicting, impossible to fulfill.

But—thank God—there’s Someone in the control tower of the universe who really is in control. He has a flight plan for everyone in His universe, and He will fulfill it. He’s King of all Kings, and Lord of all Lords. What He determines will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. This is the message He gave to His disciples (and to us) the night before He would give His life for us:

These things I have spoken to you,
that in Me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation;
but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. John16:33

Your great, omnipotent God is in charge of His universe. Be of good cheer. You don’t need to be afraid any more.