Climb, Confess, Communicate

I was an F-14 Tomcat radar intercept officer, and one of my many jobs in the plane was navigation. I needed to know not only where we were but also where our carrier was. If we were close enough to reach land, it was also my job to know if there were any alternative airports that we could use in an emergency. It is easier to do from an airport that doesn’t move and has landmarks around it. What did I need to do if I was lost?

Landing during the day, in calm seas. Circa 1981

Landing the Plane

Finding your way to an airport to land on can be tough, especially when having an in-flight emergency! Bad weather also interferes. You may have to trust your instruments (and those that maintain them!) to find your way back home. It is not a comfortable situation.

However, when all I saw below me was open ocean water, I could not navigate by what I saw. I had to use instruments that I trusted (and those young men that maintained them!) to get back to the carrier. Imagine that the only place I could land is the field from which I launched. All the terrain outside my window looked the same, with no distinguishing features. My “airport” moved in any direction at or about 20-35 miles per hour. So, after I used most of my fuel, and had about 25 minutes of it left, tell me, where do I land?

What if my instruments are not helping you? What if … I am lost?

I was trained, upon realizing that I did not know how to get “home” to:


  1. CLIMB in altitude, to be easier to spot on land and ship-based radar and to stretch the fuel. This also extends my view of the world around me, I can see further and can be seen from further. (Jet engines get better mileage at higher altitudes, also.)
  2. CONFESS to yourself and to anyone on the radio that you are lost. Humility can be a lifesaver! Swallow that pride and get help!
  3. COMMUNICATE on the radio so someone with the proper equipment could find you and help you with directions. Don’t try to do it alone. There are many fliers on the bottom of the ocean that were never found.

During the Cold War:

An interesting sideline was that during the Cold War, Soviet ships often tried to confuse us. Pretending to be someone aboard our carrier and giving us false directions. Pretending to help us, they were doing their best to have us run out of fuel and crash. If we crashed because we trusted them, they got to celebrate while we were very wet, still needed help. That parallels what Satan does to us, whenever sin has gotten a hold. Posing as an angel of light, He tries to tell us what to do. Pretending he’s there for us when he’s out to destroy us. Remember what the demons did to the herd of pigs they entered!

The key was not to never get lost! No one WANTED to get lost, but it was unrealistic to think none of us ever would. Sooner or later, someone would need help getting home. The key was the ability to recover! The professional response was to do whatever one needed to do. To swallow pride, to accept help (to qualify false offers of it, also), to live on! How do I know? Because I got lost once. I also knew how to find myself again.

I also know because I had the honor and privilege of saving the crew of another airplane when that plane was lost. We were doing an exercise where the ship did not use any instruments to communicate with the planes. It was very dark that night. The pilot did things by the book. He climbed to a higher altitude, got on the radio, and when I answered he recognized my voice. He was open and honest and trusted me. He told me his altitude, and I was able to find his plane. Together, we were able to get him going in the right direction, saving both him and the airplane. Yes, we hugged once we were both on the ship again.

Where am I? You?

The best navigators were not those that would never get lost, but those that, once lost, could regain their bearings and once again function. Knowing how to find your way back is a key ability.

Helping the Blind

I also spent some time working with an agency that helped blind people to fit back into society. One of the skills taught was how to use a white cane to get around. We taught them how to get around their house and other familiar areas. It was another thing altogether to teach them how to navigate unfamiliar areas.

Using a cane to navigate by using surroundings.

Cane users were able to get lost just like us fliers. Remember, they could not look around to figure out where they were! So, how did they deal with getting lost?

  1. Climb: Stay calm. Relax. They had been taught what to do and panicking was not helpful.
  2. Confess: Admit they were lost to themselves, and if someone is around, ask for help.
  3. Communicate: If someone is helping, that’s great. However, if no one is helping, then communicate (with the cane and with their ears!) with your surroundings! If necessary, retrace your steps until you get to something familiar.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?


Sound familiar? I believe that God wants us to do the same with all of our sins once we are ready to deal with them! God doesn’t expect us to be perfect and error-free, God wants us to recover from our sins! Here’s one way to do just that:

  1. CLIMB: Raise our vision from the sin to the higher altitude of our walk with God. See it, and us, from His viewpoint, not other’s. Stop looking at why it is a ‘fun’ sin, or what it appears to offer. Look at if from God’s point of view and see how it makes life worse for you and people around you. Also remember that Jesus paid for that sin. Whatever you think you deserve for that sin, He already took that punishment!
  2. CONFESS: End denial. Stop hiding from yourself and your behaviors. Lying to yourself may have short-term benefits, but in the long run, you are going down a dead-end street. Admit the sin to yourself, then to someone else that really is willing to listen. Find someone able to help you. They may be a friend, they may be a professional.
  3. COMMUNICATE: By talking it out, with yourself, with God and with a mature Christian, you can do what’s best to do to continue with life and your walk with God. What really counts is your walk with God, that’s most important. Oh, while you are at it, you need to CO-OPERATE with those that are helping you. Finding your way home is such sweet joy!
Climb, Confess and Communicate!

That goes for all sin. Some believe they will never sin again, because they are now perfect. Note that Paul admitted he never reached perfection on earth. Since we humans are not perfect we are going to sin, and sin again. It is important that we learn how to deal with sin in a constructive manner. God wants us to learn to cope with our sins, past, present, and future. Christ died for all of those sins. Let’s build our lives on the foundation He laid down, which is higher than our sins.

Remember, Satan wants us to stay lost, unable to find our way back to God. Posing as an angel of light, He tries to tell us what to do. Pretending he’s there for us when he’s not. Remember what the demons did to the herd of pigs they entered! Humility helps us go to the right source!

Remember, when you are lost Climb, Confess and Communicate to find your way back!

God didn’t commend the “pure in behavior,” He commended the “pure in heart” and the “pure in spirit.”

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