Part 7 - Learning to Fly
Flying has always been a favourite hobby for Peter Vandenberg. Put in his own words, “Anyone who knows me for longer than five minutes knows that I love to fly. Flying one thing or another has been the abiding personal passion of my life, a pastime that makes me feel that I am directly in contact with God and with the beautiful world He has made for us. It’s a passion that has made its way into my ministry in numerous ways.”
He remembers his first time off the ground, piloting a hang glider, in 1979 at the South Wales Hang Gliding Centre. It began with a five-day course on technical and aerodynamic theory, how to assemble and disassemble the machine, and then how to run... On the fourth day, it was time to fly.
Peter recalls the experience, “...As I [ran], I felt the glider being transformed from a lifeless construction of aluminium tubing and Dacron fabric into a living moving creature that began to tug with energy at my harness straps... my glider had come alive, and I felt the insistent pull on my harness win the battle over gravity as it lifted me into the air and the ground fell away below. I was airborne. It worked!
I couldn’t help but think that this first high flight was so similar in many respects to a ‘leap of faith,’ of which by this time we had made many. There was the extended time of learning why and how a hang glider could carry you through the air. There were instructions on how to do it correctly with examples from others who had already done it. And best of all, we had been witnesses to others flying free above our heads, soaring and diving through the air.
It had been just the same with our search for the call of God and faith to seize it.”
Hebrews 11:1-31 begins with a definition of faith and includes a whole host of examples of it in action. What are some examples from Peter’s story that would fit on a “list of faith”? What are some examples from your own story?
Based on the definition of faith offered in Hebrews 11:1, how do you think that Peter’s first experience with flight was similar to a ‘leap of faith’ that he and his family had taken many times?
Faith is demonstrated by action. James 2:14-26 exemplifies how stepping out in faith is the real evidence that faith is alive. How do you think Peter’s belief in his ability to fly a hang glider was different on the first day of his flying class versus his last?
James 2:14-26 sheds some light on what faith is not. Have you ever been in a situation where you did not step out in faith and you wished you had? How does Peter’s story give you courage to take a leap of faith?
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:
10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.
12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.
13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.
20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
21 By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.
22 By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.
23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment.
24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;
25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.
27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
28 Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.
29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.
30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.
31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.
14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.