Welcome to the Flight Of The Saints Home Page

This page is devoted to a series of discussions centered around a profound analogy of the Christian's walk and life.

The two most significant interests in my life, apart from my family of course, are my walk with God and flying.
It should come as no surprise, then, that I have chosen as the focus of this page an analogy, one which parallels the spiritual principles and forces acting upon the Christian in his walk with God to the principles and forces evidenced in the "theory of flight". It is the likening of the believer to an airplane, and his life and walk to the wonderous aspects of flight.
In short, it defines the Christian's spiritual journey as a spiritual flight, where the objective is to escape the pull of this world in order to get closer to God.

It is my hope to present the many facets of this analogy in a way that is both interesting and informative, one that may perhaps give us a clearer understanding of our Christian walk.

I suspect that many readers are relatively new to flight physics, biblical principles or both. The following links are designed to help you choose topics that will best suit your particular level of knowledge, interest and place in life. However, I recommend that you eventually jump to all the links so as not to miss an important connection in the analogy. Perhaps the reader may pull out even more details in this analogy then is currently covered.

Introduction and disclaimer.

A primer on the Theory Of Flight.

Flight Of The Saints analogy.


Introduction and disclaimer.

The subject that is being embarked upon in these pages can be very broad.
Considering the nature of the one who created this world, it is easy to understand that the physical laws holding the world in balance can seem to be as diverse as the many spiritual laws and principles found in scripture.

No matter how close an analogy may seem to come in explaining an idea, there is a time when the analogy will eventually fail to provide the full picture. This is especially true when the analogy attempts to expose man's finite mind to ideas perpetuating from the infinite!

With the above ideas in mind, I hope you will treat these pages as a never ending "work-in-progress". I anticipate many related topics will arise from time to time, and I will add links as appropriate.

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A primer on the Theory Of Flight.

For obvious reasons, I will not go into a vast discourse here on the theory of flight.
Relative Wind, Angle Of Attack and specifics of airfoil design are major components in the Theory Of Flight. There is a whole science that can be studied on how certain shapes, configuration of wings, aircraft parts, etc. can be effected by Relative Wind and Angle Of Attack, and thus help in producing and maintaining flight. However, I won't take time here to explore these areas, as interesting as that might be to pursuing the analogy at hand.

However, there are many web sites with a relativly in depth discourse on the subject. Among them are Groundschool Theory of Flight, Theory of Flight - Level 3 and The Theory of Flight.
Rather, I would like to put forth only the highlights of the subject as they may pertain to the related analogy.

For this analogy, I would like to concentrate on the four forces that are central to the Theory Of Flight. The whole theory of flight, therefore, can be summarized in a word. "Forces".
Actually four forces in particular:

The rest of the theory, for all intents and purposes, is simply a set of observations about the interaction and characteristics of these forces.

The miracle of Flight occurs when all of the above four forces are in right relationship with each other.
It is difficult to express this in a single statement, but can be expressed in the following observations:

First we need to know how these forces relate to nature: Next, let's look at each of these forces in more detail.

THRUST
Obviously, without this force, flight simply will not happen.

It is the only one of the four forces that is totally unnatural, requiring effort by an external process or control.
It is, therefore, the first force needed to be applied before the process of flight can begin.

It is also the only force that must be always increasing in strength, or have extra in reserve when needed, in order to achieve and maintain flight.

Thrust does not necessarily have to come from an engine. In the case of a Sailplane, Thrust is achieved through temporary, controlled decents (allowing altitude to be converted into Thrust) ideally followed by temporary Lift provided by thermals (spirals of upward wind that can be found under certain meteorological conditions).
Sailplanes have exceptionally efficient wing design in order to achieve this. However, they still require an external engine to get into the air initially.

DRAG
There are several different types of Drag acting on an aircraft in flight.
As was mentioned, Drag never occurs in absence of Thrust. Conversely, it is always present when Thrust is present.
Furthermore, it always works against Thrust. That does not mean to say that all Drag is considered bad.

Induced Drag:
Induced Drag is generated by the airflow circulation around the wing as it creates Lift. The high pressure air beneath the wing joins the low pressure air above the wing at the trailing edge and wingtips.

Interestingly, this type of Drag causes the greatest opposition to Thrust and is actually required in order to achieve flight. Therefore, this type of Drag is desired to be present in proper proportions to the amount of Thrust and Lift.

Parasite Drag:
This type of Drag does not contribute at all to flight and should be elliminated as much as possible to assist flight.
Examples of Parasite Drag

LIFT
Lift is the most miraculous of the four forces. It is the one force that is ultimately strived for, as it is the force that gives purpose to the aircraft, and for which the aircraft was designed.
Throughout history there have been hundreds if not thousands of designs for flying machines put forth. However, for those many designs that utterly failed, the final result could scarecly be called a plane. In fact, if they could operate at all, they would be lucky to be considered a glorified car or boat - hardly the desired result envisioned by the inventor.

Without Lift, there is no purpose to the aircraft having any of the other forces acting upon it.

Lift is only realized when there is a right proportion of Thrust and Induced Drag acting on a well designed form of the wing.
For example: As Thrust increases in proportion to Drag, Lift will also Increase. As Drag increases in proportion to Thrust, Lift will decrease.

GRAVITY
Not much more can be said of Gravity than has already been said.
It simply is there, as natural as our breathing, but has the effect of keeping things bound to the earth.
It is the only force that is always present, never changing, and never forgiving.

This is where we will stop in this abrieviated lesson on the scientific side of the Analogy.

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Flight Of The Saints Analogy

Now, for the analogy.
I'll take the most direct approach by quoting or restating an observation from above and expounding on the spiritual parallel.

Just as the prime objective of flight is to allow a heavier-than-air vehicle to escape the natural forces of gravity, so is the prime spiritual objective to allow mere mortals, bound to the limits of themselves and their current state, to escape the natural forces that keep them from achieving the ideals that God has intended.

I would like to begin by equating the four forces mentioned in the Theory Of Flight to the following spiritual forces that affect the life of a Christian. Before I begin, however, I would like to expound a bit on the term "force", as it is central to both the Theory Of Flight and this analogy.

In physics, a force is whatever can cause an object with mass to accelerate. Force has both magnitude and direction, making it a vector quantity. According to Newton's second law, an object with constant mass will accelerate in proportion to the net force acting upon it and in inverse proportion to its mass. An equivalent formulation is that the net force on an object is equal to the rate of change of momentum it experiences. Forces acting on three-dimensional objects may also cause them to rotate or deform, or result in a change in pressure. The tendency of a force to cause angular acceleration about an axis is termed torque. Deformation and pressure are the result of stress forces within an object.

To summarize, a force a) can be measured, b) will have an absolute impact (positive or negative) upon the object with which it interacts, c) is usually accompanied by a resulting force in the opposite direction and d) if excessive and complex can cause serious damage. If I am able to surmise from the Theory Of Flight that the involved forces can have both great benefit and serious consequence for the aircraft on which these forces interact, then perhaps we can also surmise that any spiritual force in this analogy could also carry both great benefit and serious consequence for the one on which these forces interact.

So, then, lets jump right into the analogy and see what these four spiritual forces are that equate to Thrust, Drag, Lift and Gravity

I'd like to interject at this point an analogy within the analogy.
In the Theory Of Flight I mentioned the benefit of "good wing design" as it relates to Lift. In the same way, I would like to equate this to that which greatly benefits our Maturity - an increasing knowledge of God's Word and a proper understanding of the world, ourselves, and our relationship with God, His Son and the Holy Spirit. In short, a proper understanding of our spiritual environment.

The miracle of spiritual flight occurs when all of the above four spiritual forces are in right relationship with each other. It is difficult to express this in a single statement, but can be expressed in the following observations:

Note that the idea of the four forces being in equilibrium as in the last observation does not necessarily mean being static - see an example of the progression of our Christian walk. When all four forces are in perfect balance, a slight increase in our Faith will result in an immediate increase in our Maturity and ability to see more of God's will manifest in us, as well as an immediate decrease in Satans power over us. This describes the great men and women of Faith that I so wish to be like. However, this is not the case when we first start out, where there is no Trials or Maturity, Faith is a tiny force and the force of Satan is at its greatest.

So, we can now begin to see how these forces relate to nature:

Let's look at each of these forces in more detail.

FAITH
Faith is the only force of the four that is totally unnatural, requiring effort by an external process or control.
It is, therefore, the first force needed to be applied before the process of walking with God can begin.

Also, Faith is the only force that must be always increasing in strength, or have extra in reserve when needed, in order to achieve a successful walk.

Just as Thrust can have 2 sources (an engine or thermals), so the force behind our Faith can come from 2 sources (our actions or our willing dependency).

TRIALS
Like Drag, Trials are always present when Faith is present.

Furthermore, Trials always work against Faith. That does not mean to say that all Trials should be considered bad.

Interestingly enough, the type of Trials that cause the greatest opposition to Faith are actually required in order to achieve spiritual Maturity.
Therefore, these types of Trials are desired to be present in proper proportions to the amount of Faith and Maturity.
For example: As our Faith increases in proportion to our Trials, Maturity will also Increase. As our Trials increase in proportion to our Faith, Maturity will decrease.

Just as there are several types of Drag acting on an aircraft in flight, so there are different purposes for Trials in our walk with God.
Everyone, whether they desire to have God in their lives or not, experiences negative things in their lives. None of us desire these. And yes, if we are wise or prudent, some of these can and should be avioded.

However, true wisdom from above will teach us the difference between Trials that are:

Trials never exist naturally, at least not until Faith is applied. However, this is one area where the analogy falls down, since the first two types of Trials are always present whether one attempts to walk with God or not.
So for the purpose of this analogy, the first type above will not be considered.
The second type will be considered only as it affects the one who is in the process of walking with God.

Like Parasite Drag, the second type of Trials never contributes at all to Maturity and should be elliminated as much as possible. Just as the structure of an aircraft can be designed to elliminate Form Drag, so too must we, in our walk with God, endeavor to remove external encumberences and baggage that act as obvious hinderences to our walk. Just as the surface of an aircraft can be maintained to elliminate Friction Drag, so too must we allow the Holy Spirit to cleanse us and smooth out our rough edges as He prepares us for the inevitale outcome of maturity.

Prior to one's attempt to walk with God, the last two types of Trials, those explicitly purposed by Satan and by God, are not practically needed and therefore like Drag, do not exist.
Consider
a) Satan requires all of his effort to be concentrated on those who are succeeding to effect this world for God's Kingdom and
b) God rarely intervenes directly in the lives of individuals who refuse to have any conscience of Him.
Therefore, if we can see that a particular trial is explicitly being crafted for us, regardless of it's source, then our response to that trial should reflect our knowledge that the trial is a requirement for our continued forward motion in our walk and, therefore, for our eventual Maturity.

MATURITY
Maturity is the most miraculous of the four forces. It is the one force that is ultimately strived for, as it is the force that gives purpose and for which we were designed.

Without Maturity, there is no purpose to us having any of the other forces acting upon us.

A poorly designed plane, failing to find lift and perpetually moving about the ground, can never be practically seen as anything but a car or boat.
In the same way, a Chrisitian who fails to gain a proper understanding of their spiritual environment (even one who has gone through all the actions of his Faith and persevered through all the Trials encountered) can never practically be used of God.
In fact, with no sign of Maturity, it can be very difficult to destinguish a true born again believer from the religious pagan who merely wears the badge of "Christian".

Maturity is only realized when there is a right proportion of Faith and Trials, coupled with one's proper understanding of their spiritual environment. Together, these act to counter Satan's attempts to thwart our forward walk (and subsequent flight) with God.

SATAN
Not much more can be said of Satan than has already been said.
He is simply there, as natural as our existence. But without our being in God's Son and having the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit in our lives, Satan has the power of keeping us bound to this world and the next to come.
As Prince of this world, he is the only force that is always present, never changing, and never forgiving.

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The Progression Of Our Christian Walk

We begin our walk, motionless on the ground as it were. At first we try to excercise our new found Faith. We crank up the engine and everyone around us can see the perspiration glisten on our foreheads as we take on this new Faith by storm. But shortly we find ourselves struggling against friends and family who yesterday were supportive of us. And we soon begin to run up against dumb luck situations that never seemed to have bothered us before. The littlest bad habits that we thought would simply drop off our mantle are taking forever to leave. "We try so hard", yet nothing seems to come of it. Soon the exercising of our Faith is spent almost entirely on battling the increasing Trials.

But then comes a day when we realize that our Faith is not so much about actions (though we still pursue this when called upon) as it is about trusting the Holy Spirit to "keep us in spite of the Trials". All of a sudden we find more than just barely perceiveable forward motion in our walk. We find a new Joy in the simplest of acts for Him, and we acquire a new understanding of our Trials. We begin to realize that many of the Trials are actually working to change us for our good. But we also realize that our Faith must be constantly excercized. We know that something is in store for us in the future, so we resolve to continue to fight the good fight against the spirit of the world and against the Trials awaiting us yet within our being.

One day we look back (or rather down as from above) and find that we have achieved some gracious measure of elevation over the last period of time.
Perhaps we have risin only 10 feet off the ground and can still see the dirt and pavement that only a little while ago was under our feet.
Or maybe we were so busy fighting the drag of our Trials that we lost track of all time, and we are now several hundred feet up, no longer able to see the details on the ground, but rather able to clearly view the realities of the "big picture" - like the towering, ever present mountain that we always thought was so high, yet now appears as a mound of dirt moving toward the horizon behind us.
It is here that the dangers of Satan start becoming more prevailent as we see results in our toiling. We believe we have enough altitude to ease off a bit in our efforts, but we can immediately sense the downward draw of Satan if we cease our efforts altogether.

On the up side, however, we may have noticed that if we have sufficient elevation, we do not need to struggle at quite the same level as we did when we were back on the ground. For example, we may have noticed that there is an "anti-stall" component to our walk - a direct benefit of higher altitude and the devine design of our relationship with God. We find that if we should have a momentary slack in our efforts, likely due to spiritual fatigue, we automatically go into a stall followed by up and down oscillations. We find that if we are quick to wake up and pick up where we left off, we can recover and regain most of the lost elevation.
Without sufficient elevation, however, we will find ourselves back on the ground, with possibly disasterous results or at least having to battle once again the old battles we had when we first found our Faith.

Alas, we find ourselves turning our attention to another child of God. His experience is somewhat different than ours.

Initially, this one never seemed to have the gusto that we had when we first started our spiritual journey. In fact, this one seemed to rely more on the Faith of others to get him moving. But by golly, once he got mobile, his Faith seemed to soar. The more persecution and suffering he encountered, the higher he would go - more than anyone I can think of.
Oh, he still encounters great hills and valleys in his life. And due to his suffering he is often dependent on others for physical sustainance. But he sure seems to be more wise and responsive to God than most everyone else!

Nevertheless, though we are sometimes a little jealous of that one and wish we could soar like him, it does not negate the fact that the spiritual forces and processes that have brought him safely thus far are the very same that continue to work on us!

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