I've been told by many people that flexibility, patience, and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances are important traits for anyone in the aviation world (and especially in missionary aviation). Well, I have been experiencing that for myself lately. I've been "almost ready" for my check ride for a few weeks now, and yet I don't feel that I am getting any closer. This week alone, I have had to cancel three flights. The reality is, no matter how hard I work or how well I plan, there are some things that are just beyond my control. Planes need unexpected maintenance, the weather doesn't always cooperate, and scheduling conflicts arise.
These delays can be frustrating, but they remind me to slow down and not to be so worried about "getting things done". God is also using my experiences to strengthen character qualities that I will need in increasing measure as we progress down this road toward serving in missionary aviation. I am reminded not to lean too much on my plans and ideas, and that this life of faith is more about a real, dynamic relationship with Jesus, than it is about accomplishing things for him.
I like this definition of patience: an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay (from dictionary.com). However, I don't think that's the extent of what God wants to develop in me (and all of us, for that matter). He doesn't want me to merely suppress my feelings of restlessness when things don't go as planned; He wants to take the restlessness and replace it with peace. He doesn't want me to conceal my annoyance when people disrupt my plans; He wants me to respond with genuine love and compassion, rather than becoming annoyed in the first place.
Matthew 14 records one occasion when Jesus exemplified this. After hearing that John had been executed, it seems that he just wanted some time alone. That's understandable! But the persistent crowds followed him to the solitary place that he sought out. Jesus responded by losing his temper and yelling, "Can't you people just leave me alone for one day? I'm trying to grieve here!" Oh, wait, that's what we might do—not what Jesus did! Jesus looked at the crowd, had compassion, healed their sick, and even served them dinner!
In aviation and in life, my plans are sure to be delayed, cancelled, and turned upside-down by other people and unforeseen circumstances. There will be times when I need to set aside my desires to respond to the needs of others. My prayer is that as I allow Jesus to live through me, I will respond in each situation with true peace, full trust, deep love, and heartfelt compassion.