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Staying on course

From the March 2011 issue of The Christian Science Journal

“You make it look so easy!” is a typical exclamation directed at a polished performer, by someone striving to acquire a similar skill. In the realm of music, athletics, academics, business, family relations, etc., the process from “newbie” to “old hand” is necessary, even though not always appealing. No surprise that becoming a better Christian, a more effective Christian Scientist, is similarly a challenging path of focused effort and heartening progress.

Flying can provide helpful analogies, as I discovered in my experiences as a military aviator. Consider piloting an airplane in conditions where there are no visual references outside the cockpit, as when flying through thick clouds. Instructed to maintain specific altitude, heading, and speed, a novice pilot experiences noticeable deviations from those specifications; instrument readouts tell the tale. Yet, in the same aircraft, in the same flight conditions, a skilled pilot will keep the altitude, heading, and speed as specified. 

Both pilots are subject to the same aerodynamic forces, so why the difference in performances? Well, the skilled pilot anticipates deviations and more quickly detects—from various instruments relating to flight performance parameters—the need for corrections. It isn’t that the skilled pilot doesn’t deviate from the specified flight parameters, but relative to those of the novice the deviations are minor, perhaps nearly imperceptible. Essentially, the skilled pilot is continually making slight corrections back to the specified altitude, heading, and speed rather than not acting until a large deviation has become apparent.

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