Pulse 101.7FM Board Member David Nadler shares his recent experience flying in a WWII warplane… and his reflections on family, faith and country.
Trouble Slowing Down.
I don’t know what it is about me . . . I’ve always had trouble stopping and looking back. Slowing down to take a look at what happened in the past; where I’ve come from and working to connect the dots that will help me see where I’m going.
I don’t know that I’m really all that different from you, either. If you’re like most of the people I meet, you just fly from thing to thing [baseball/work/soccer/band/more work/church activities/friends/even more work] and it just feels un-natural to slow down and reflect. I spend time talking about slowing down . . . but I never seem to have enough time to actually do it.
The B-17 is the most iconic bomber of the US Armed Forces during World War II. The B-17 bomber dropped more bombs on Germany than any other plane in service. I know this in part because my grandfather flew in a B-24 in WWII and I’ve always looked at the planes as a symbol of manhood, grit and heroism. I thoroughly remember working with my dad and brother to build my grandpa a plastic model of his plane when I was about 10, and I just as thoroughly remember the mix of “looks” on his face we gave it to him.
My Flight and Slowing Down.
Today I had the opportunity to fly in a real B-17 bomber and it was absolutely unreal. The noise of the engines when you sit in a plane that apparently has little more than Coke-can thick walls is deafening. Seeing the massive 50 caliber guns hanging in the window and trying to picture a high-school senior aiming it out the window was just as deafening… just deafening in a different way. I got to thinking about what it would call out of a man to fly into battle; whether in the skies of Germany 60 years ago or on the plains outside of Jerusalem thousands of years ago. And, of course, I got to thinking, as I think any man would admit if he’s honest with himself, about whether I would have what it takes to meet a challenge of that magnitude with courage and heroism.
Every man has a deep desire to know if he has what it takes. Do I have what it takes to make my parents proud? To be a good husband and dad? To excel at my career? To please God?
As I was sitting in the very back seat of this massive war machine, I slowed down. My mind and my heart were forced to reflect. The gravity of the situation just required it. And I started to look inside at some of the deepest questions of my heart.
It’s no wonder I don’t like to slow down! I do it for a couple of hours and I end up pondering my existence at a deep level and being unnerved by my thoughts. It made me take a look at why I tend to keep myself busy. I keep active because these deep thoughts, the true musings of the heart, are incredibly uncomfortable.
Holes in my Soul.
I thought I was headed up in this plane to honor my family and get a once in a lifetime experience in a warplane. Had I known that the flight would go flawlessly, but that I would go into an internal tailspin, I would have thought twice about going. There’s just nothing comfortable about looking into the holes that exist in my soul, and most days it looks like I’m out to avoid peering into those holes at all costs.
But this day I didn’t avoid it. I flew in my grandpa’s plane. I held a gun like the one he held. I asked the questions that he no doubt asked.
Now, I recognize that my grandpa fought a war – and that I was on a historic tour . . . but God spoke to me about whether I have what it takes for my battles.
Of course, the answer to that question is between me and God, but I’m glad God slowed me down. I’m glad I looked in there and asked some questions. I’m satisfied because God spoke to me.
And I am really, really proud to be an American.