Brace for Impact

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Last week US Airways Flight 1549 left La Guardia Airport bound for Charlotte, North Carolina with passengers expecting a routine journey. They were soon to realize the importance of having a pilot prepared to face a crisis in the skies.

Seconds after takeoff, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger noticed a flock of geese “in a perfect line formation” headed toward the plane. In the next instant when both engines failed, the Captain drew on all he knew from his training and executed a textbook perfect leadership strategy.

He surveyed the situation.
He recalled his training.
He called on his crew.
He warned the passengers, “Brace for impact.”
He executed a perfect water landing.
He ensured the safety of his passengers and crew.
He exited the plane.

This deft pilot with over 40 years of flying experience maneuvered the plane to safety with such skill and calm that he is now proclaimed a hero.

Sully had spent his career training, studying, and practicing his craft so that when faced with a potential catastrophe, he could react decisively and with confidence. Accomplished pilots like Sully know that you don’t wait till you’re in a crisis to figure out how to get out of a crisis. Sully was prepared.

We would do well to learn from Captain Sullenberger about how to face our own turbulent times. When we are under fire, when we are facing danger, when we our schedule is thrown off course, when we face turbulent times, when we veer off course, when we are attacked…how do we respond? How do we brace for impact?

Like Sully, we need to study and train and practice. We need to be prepared.

We need to study God’s word to learn how he can help us in times of trouble.

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

We need to train with other Christians, our crew, so that we’ll have a support system.

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. Acts 2:42

We need to practice our faith daily so that we can act decisively and with consideration of others.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10

Then we too can exit the potential crisis with confidence of a job well done.

Yes, we too must know how to “brace for impact.”


Friday, January 16, 2009

If you think of your body as a car, which gear do you spend the most time in? Dr. Richard Swenson writes in his book Margins that the healthiest lifestyle comes equipped with four gears: park, low, drive, and overdrive.

Park – This gear is for meditative times when we need to rest and recharge our batteries. In this gear we spend time reflecting on our values and our faith or when we pray and study the Bible. I’m in this gear when I read a book for sheer pleasure or take a yoga class or read my morning devotion.

Low – This gear is for our relationships with family and friends. We use this gear when we read to our children or enjoy a cup of coffee (green tea, in my case) with a friend. We’re in this gear when we console a friend or share a funny story. We need periods in our life when we slow down enough to give and receive support from those we love.

Drive – We use this gear for work and play. We use lots of energy and are at our most productive when we’re in drive. This gear gets us places. I’m in drive when I power walk or work with a leadership team on a project.

Overdrive - We go into overdrive when we need extra energy like when we’re trying to meet a deadline. Athletes use this gear in sporting events. We’re overdrive when we attempt to multi-task. Like many of you, I stayed in this gear during much of the hectic holiday season.
Sadly, many of us stay in overdrive never slowing down to shift into other gears. Neither our cars nor our bodies are designed to run continually at break neck speeds. Just as our cars run down or overheat, out bodies will too if we don’t take time to slow down. Our minds and bodies will become tired, weary, and burdened if we don’t find balance. Jesus tells in Matthew 11:28-30 to go to him when we are weary.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

For our body, mind, and spirit to work together in harmony and balance, we may need to adjust our gears. Which gear do you need to work on?

Flourisher or Languisher?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Are you a Flourisher or a Languisher? Languishers pine away about their lives. They wallow in great self-pity about every struggle they face – great or small. The proverbial glass is always half empty. They take every chance to let everyone around them know that life is not a bed of roses, and if they had any roses, they’d be wilted and full of thorns. On the other hand, Flourishers look on the bright side of life, even when facing challenges. Just as flowers in the garden flourish, these positive people enjoy the fullness of life and thrive. According to a study in American Psychologist, 17% of Americans are Flourishers and 10% are Languishers. The rest fall somewhere in between. Flourishers have a positive outlook, feel a sense of community, and are healthier than Languishers.

A Dutch professor reviewed 30 studies from around the world and found that the effects of happiness on longevity were “comparable to that of smoking or not.” He went so far as to say that the effects of a positive outlook could extend a person’s life 7.5 – 10 years! His study showed that happy people tend to watch their weight, are more perceptive to symptoms of illness, live healthier lives. Makes me want a heavy dose of happiness!

What’s remarkable about these studies is they show that happiness is a choice. Both Flourishers and Languishers encounter negative experiences, sorrows, and tragedies. But those who take the high road and make the very best out of each situation feel happiness within. Happy people spread happiness.

In Sardinia and Okinawa, where people live the longest, residents claim to spend more time with family, nourish their faith, and do good things for others. That sounds like a flourishing life to me! Those sound like characteristics of a Christ-filled life.

Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” To flourish or to languish? It’s a choice!

“A happy heart makes the face cheerful.” Proverbs 15:13

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