On March 23,1994 - Aeoflot flight 593, on route from Moscow, Russia to Hong Kong was anticipated with eagerness by two Russian children.
They were taking their first international flight by special invitation from the pilot, Yaroslav Kudrinsky, who happened to be the youngsters' father!
Safely on it's designated flight path, the plane's controls were set on automatic pilot. Kudrinsky invited his son and daughter into the cockpit to experience the thrill of sitting at the controls.
His daughter sat in the co-pilot's seat first putting her hands on the control column. Then Kudrinsky invited his son to do the same, but something went terribly wrong after 15 year old Eldar took hold of the control column. The plane's wings began to dip at precarious angles and within a few minutes the hopelessly out of control Airbus crashed into a Siberian hillside killing all 75 on board.
What went wrong ?
Bit by bit the pieces were put together by investigators who understood the airplane and who listened over and over again to the information yielded by the recovered 'black box' flight data recorder.
I recently watched a documentary about this ill-fated Airbus flight.
When Eldar put his hands on the control column, he did not mimic the gentle touch of his sister's hands. Instead, he exerted force on it for a sustained 30 seconds. At that point the automatic pilot (as it was programed to do) partly disengaged and put the control of the airplane literally into Aldar's hands. The plane began to fly at crazy angles and the pilot and co-pilots began to panic, frantically trying to discover what was wrong with the plane before it was too late.
In the Russian -made planes if the automatic pilot is disengaged , an alarm sounds. In the American built Airbus there was no such alarm, only a small red light that went unnoticed by the men in the cockpit. They pulled as hard as they could on the control column trying to right the airplane but all their efforts were in vain, the plane was beyond human control and it went into a steep nose dive to its destruction and the death of all on board.
As I watched an enactment of the final moments in the cockpit, two pilots sat in the simulator going through every action taken by the real-life pilots. At one point, the plane now hopelessly out of control, the pilots suddenly deviated from the actions of the real life pilots ---- they simply let go of the control column. The plane righted itself effortlessly and returned to flying in a totally controlled flight pattern.
The Airbus was designed in such a way that no matter how out of control the airplane was , simply letting go of the controls would bring it out of the worst possible dive or tail spin.
Pilot Kudrinsky had not been trained nor made aware of this safety feature built into the plane he was flying and it cost him his life and the lives of those in his care.
As I watched, I saw this story as a parable.
We all are invited to sit at the controls of the life that God has given us. We enjoy life in our childhood, simply taking it as it comes. By the time we reach our teens most of us have reasoned that life would treat us much better if we lived it on our own terms. We grab hold of the control column and resist against the things that we don't like, the things that come against us, the things that stand in the way of what we want, the things that demand of us what we are not willing to give.
At first we feel great! We are in control. We are flying our life!
Even when our life begins to tilt out of control, we are not immediately alarmed, we believe we can bring it back under control !!
There is a red warning light but we ignore it.
We try harder and harder, scrambling, grabbing, pushing, but our sin, our rebellion against God spins us more and more out of control, and the harder we try the faster we fall to our destruction.
If only we knew ! There is a safety mechanism build into our spiritual DNA .... at any time in our life if we simply repent - let go of our own way and submit to God -- our life will right itself ... and we will find our purpose.
Even as Christians how often do our knuckles turn white on the control column when simply letting go and trusting God will put everything right!
"There is a way that seems right to man, but the end thereof is death.
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding, and He shall direct your paths. (Prov.16:25, Prov.3:5,6b)