Shocked! I was shocked that my parents would let me go, but I was glad they did. I was a college student sitting in a private plane on runway 26R on a moonless night waiting for the word to take off out of the El Paso airport. One of my dad's friends was getting his commercial pilot certification and was doing touch and go landings working on his hours flying IFR — instrument flight rules.

As we took off, he reminded me that flying out this runway was called "flying into the boot." As we took off, I understood why. The lights of the city fly by my window, but as we gained altitude and began to fly east out of the city, the lights began to vanish below and behind us. Then all of a sudden, all the lights were gone. I felt like we had flown into the toe of a boot. We had a sense of motion, but without the instruments, there was no way to tell up from down or right from left in the darkness.

At a specific time, he punched a button to change radio beacons to change the vector we would fly next. We banked hard to the left and headed north. "Remember what I told about drifting with the air mass. The wind is 20-25 knots tonight, so we have to be very careful and stay on our vector north through the mountains. If we simply fly the plane straight, we would drift with the wind and crash into the mountains."

Ouch, not a pleasant thought at all. But we hit our marks and when we passed over and through the mountains, we could see lights below in southern New Mexico. But to avoid the drift of air currents, my dad's friend was careful to keep us on target.

We live in culture. We don't have a choice about this. We are born into a family culture, a national culture, possibly an ethnic culture, a religious culture, and other elements influence us. Even when we don't notice culture's impact on us, we can easily drift with culture and away from godliness. We can lose our orientation to God and the things of God very easily.

To avoid mindlessly drifting with culture, we must have a clear target in mind and keep shifting our focus back to that target or goal. Drift and disorientation from the will of God can have disastrous impact on our lives and the lives of those around us and those who follow after us.

The evil one will constantly try to get us to diminish our significance and make us feel that our decisions and choices don't really matter to anyone but ourselves. Yet deep in our hearts, we know the truth. That's why the stories we love emphasize the importance of seemingly insignificant people making epic differences by the choices for good they make — think about the "Star Wars" saga or "The Lord of the Rings" stories! (See below for quotes and video.)

So rather than drifting with culture, let's be vigilant about shifting our focus back to Jesus! In our everyday world, we shift in all kinds of ways and for all kinds of reasons. These can help us see some places we can make the shift in our spiritual lives:

  • We hit the shift key to emphasize things are important. So when we think of shift, let's think of emphasizing the things that are important to Jesus in our lives.
  • We shift our position when we are uncomfortable or hurting. So let's examine our lives and see where we are out of phase with the will of the Lord and shift back to his standards.
  • We shift gears to change our speed or increase our power. So let's shift to increase our passion and commitment to follow Jesus and reflect the character and compassion of Christ in our daily lives.

Rather than drift, let's choose to shift!

In "The Lord of the Rings," there are several discussions between Frodo and Sam about the story they have fallen into and the story they leave behind. You may find the clip below ( helpful as well as the quotes (count down to 19-22) located here ( These remind us that our lives are part of a bigger story that began before us and goes on long after we are gone.

Let's be vigilant about shifting our focus back to Jesus!

One awful tragedy powerfully illustrates the dangers of "spatial disorientation" while flying. This tragedy involved John F. Kennedy, Jr. — see Wikipedia article ( This story is a sobering reminder of what happens when we don't get our bearings and lose our orientation to our goal (God): not only is our life impacted, but those we love and those around us.

Note these verses that give the biblical foundation for the thoughts above:

It's crucial that we keep a firm grip on what we've heard so that we don't drift off. If the old message delivered by the angels was valid and nobody got away with anything, do you think we can risk neglecting this latest message, this magnificent salvation? First of all, it was delivered in person by the Master, then accurately passed on to us by those who heard it from him. All the while God was validating it with gifts through the Holy Spirit, all sorts of signs and miracles, as he saw fit (Hebrews 2:1-4 MSG).

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus ... (Hebrews 3:1 TNIV).

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith ... (Hebrews 12:1-2 TNIV).