Have you ever been stopped at a traffic light in your car, and suddenly you think and feel that your car is rolling backward? So you might gasp as you step on your brakes even harder. But when you turn your eyes and get a glimpse of the road, you suddenly realize – Hey! You didn’t move at all – but the car next to you inched forward instead. This is called Spatial Disorientation. When your brain uses your peripheral vision and thinks that car next to you is standing still, well, something else has to be moving!

In computer simulation, we actually create and depend on this effect to give people the experience of taxiing down a runway, or flying through a valley at high speed. Interestingly, the viewer is not digitally moved through the scenery. Instead, math causes the millions of points of scenery to move past and around the viewer – exactly like the effect of the car next to you creeping forward.

Because the person doing the viewing can’t see anything standing perfectly still, he or she has the full sensation of motion, when there really is no motion at all. That’s the power of Spatial Disorientation!

Spatial Disorientation isn’t always a good thing, though. The FAA suspects pilots experiencing spatial disorientation even in daytime cause 5% to 10% of all airplane crashes, 90% of which prove fatal. Pilots who disregard what their instruments are telling them because of the sensations they are feeling soon get into really big trouble!

In the spiritual realm, we sometimes find ourselves in the same situation: Wondering if we are really getting anywhere in our walk with God, while the whole world is whirling around us. Life is busy! People are moving more and faster, kids are growing up, jobs are demanding, and our schedule is more harried all the time! When people say, “Hi! How are you doing?” we often answer that we feel like we’re going crazy with everything going on. No wonder, right?

The Apostle Paul really explores our spiritual perception in 2 Corinthians 4, when he says “We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” See? The world and all the people in it may not make any sense whatsoever.  It sure may seem like everything and everyone is against us, but as followers of Christ, “We aren’t defeated! We do not lose heart!

So to keep our perspective on what is spiritually real and important, and not fall victim to Spiritual Disorientation “we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

The key to straight-and-level spiritual flight is what we have our eyes fixed on. That’s an analogy which really means: What do we spend our time thinking about? How do we think about the people we run into each day? Do we burn inside over the wrongs we feel we’ve had done to us? Do we feel frustrated with everyone, and feel like we’re alone in our struggles? Or can we overcome all these things to demonstrate kindness, mercy, happiness and joy, compassion we’ve learned in Christ?

See, we need the correct heading, course, roll, pitch, and yaw we get from God’s word. We need to depend on, have faith in those true instruments a whole lot more that we depend on our own sense of self-stability and our ability to handle things.

That’s how Paul handled his continual persecution. He looked at every situation from God’s stable vantage point. By doing this, we can always know exactly where we are, and were we are going.


Happy landings

Joel Owens