Richard Craver

Thoughts, Musings And The Occasional Rant

Spiritual Vertigo

Written By: richardwcraver - Aug• 11•13

On July 16th, 1999, John F. Kennedy Jr., son of the assassinated President John F. Kennedy as well as his wife Carolyn Bessette and sister-in-law, Lauren Bessette were killed when his single engine aircraft crashed into the waters off of Martha’s Vineyard, Masachusetts. Weather was quickly sited as a factor in the crash as the conditions were hazy in Rhode Island Sound that evening. As the investigation continued to unfold it was revealed that John, although a licensed pilot was in the process of training for instrumented flight, however his instructors told investigators he was not ready for his instrument rating exam at the time of the crash.

John was licensed for VFR, or Visual Field Rules flight. The Piper Saratoga he was flying was equipped for IFR, or Instrumented Field Rules; also known as flying by instruments. The flight was originally supposed to take place around 6:00 PM that evening, but due to Lauren working late and heavy traffic to the airport the plane departed for Martha’s Vineyard at 8:39 PM as darkness set in and the moon was just barely on the horizon. These were conditions that John was not fully trained or prepared for.

The conclusion of the FAA investigation was that John succumbed to Spatial Disorientation, or vertigo. With no visible horizon and being inexperienced with instrument flying, John either put the Piper into a steep, full power climb trying desperately to get above cloud cover, causing the aircraft’s main wing to stall or realizing the plane was stalled, he took the desperation tactic of pitching the nose downward into a dive to pickup air speed to attempt stall recovery. Not being able to see the ocean, and not trusting his instruments he probably dove straight into the ocean at full throttle. We will never know exactly what took place in that aircraft on that evening. Ironically, if John had reduced power and let go of the controls the plane likely would have leveled it’s flight. Most general aviation aircraft are designed to be forgiving like that.

So where am I going with all this? ‘Spiritual Vertigo’ if I may make the comparison for a moment.

We live in an age where all of our ethical, moral and spiritual absolutes are being pushed aside or simply thrown out altogether. I’m not surprised to see that in secular culture, it has been like that from the beginning, we see in Genesis 6:5 The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. However corruption has crept into the Church as well, sometimes it comes from well intentioned believers that being surrounded by secular professionals in their work or social circles and begin to think and behave like those around them. 2nd Peter 2:8 tells of Lot living with his tent pitched toward Sodom, “8 for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard.” We are affected by what we are around, see and listen to. Sometimes a believer can be indistinguishable from the non-believer. I have found myself guilty of that.

So how does Spiritual Vertigo come into play? We are all spiritual beings, living in fleshly bodies. Our spiritual being, is ruled by the laws of it’s Creator, God. Whether or not a person believes God exists is irrelevant, John F. Kennedy Jr may not have believed in spatial disorientation when he took off that summer evening, but he could not escape the law of gravity and his own lack of visual sense. Proverbs 16:25 tells us, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” It is speaking of the spiritual realm in this verse, but in the case of John, it applies in the aviation realm as well.

If we follow the world and it’s practices, and we shun God’s Word and His laws, we are bound for destruction; this is a spiritual law that we will abide by and answer for regardless whether we believe it or not. We quickly find ourselves in a downward spiral, picking up speed.

So if you find yourself on the wrong path, in a spin, not following the rules, what do you do?

Repent. That is a Biblical word that means turn away, more specifically ask forgiveness and turn away from what you are doing. Ask forgiveness from God, because it is His law you have broken. And once you have turned away, agree with God that His ways are best and agree to follow them. If John Kennedy had let loose of the controls and reduced power the aircraft would have become stable. If spiritually we let go and give God control of our lives, if we quite struggling in our own power, we can find forgiveness, peace and restoration.

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