“United 245, 5 miles from Ridge, maintain 3000 feet until established on the localizer; cleared for ILS runway two-two right approach. Maintain one eight zero knots until Ridge, contact tower at Ridge one two six point niner.”
So begins one of my days as an air traffic controller at one of the world's busiest airports.
I have been an air traffic controller since 1979. Not long after I was transferred to Chicago O’Hare’s International airport, I saw a practical application of air traffic control procedures to the basic thrust of the AiG ministry.
During my shift, I work at a radar scope, and use radio frequencies to control aircraft flying into and out of O’Hare (and other airports).
Now when I’m speaking to an aircraft, I have a flight progress strip—a strip of paper that gives me vital information about the name and type of each aircraft, where it is going to, and how it will get to its destination.
I have a separate strip of paper for each aircraft I’m controlling. Prior to my time in Chicago, I worked at airports where I would only control around six or seven aircraft at a time. But when I arrived at O’Hare, I was shocked!
Controllers here work between 10 to 12 aircraft at one time—and on a regular basis. At first, I was totally lost! For the first time in my life I would look at the radar scope and not have any idea where to start! There were little “dots” everywhere! How does one bring order to this seeming mess?
(I’m sure you wouldn’t have wanted to fly into Chicago at that time knowing I was working as a controller lost in a maze of radar images and panicking!)
My trainer told me to forget everything I had learned over the years about air traffic control, and learn the system used at O’Hare. During this training time, you would have heard my trainer saying over and over again, “Bottom strip-bottom strip-bottom strip!!!”
When it starts getting busy, I would have a dozen strips of paper with information—but just sitting there by themselves, the strips would be just a chaotic mess. The system would breakdown and the planes would be uncontrolled.
So I was taught to start at the bottom of the list with “the bottom strip,” and then place each of the other strips in order above this, working to the top. The “bottom strip” gave the foundation necessary to bring order to all the other strips.
Now here is the connection to the AiG ministry I made as I kept reciting “bottom strip.” Looking at this world, we see an assortment of views on abortion, creation, evolution, pre-marital sex, drugs, marriage, homosexual behavior, suicide, sanctity of life, and so on.
How should we approach all of these? Why is there such a diversity of views about them? How can we understand what is right and wrong? Who decides? How do we make sense of our world?
And then it hit me—“bottom strip.”
The AiG message is that the Bible, beginning with Genesis, is the “bottom strip” that builds a worldview to make sense of this world. Beginning with Genesis we understand what is right and wrong, because all Biblical doctrines are ultimately founded in the first eleven chapters of Genesis. Thus we have a basis for knowing why marriage is one man for one woman—why homosexual behavior is wrong—what sin is and why people act the way they do, and so on.
Sadly, much of the church has lost the “bottom strip” that is so vital to understanding the Gospel—and for creating a foundation to a correct worldview. They don’t use God’s Word starting with Genesis as their “bottom strip.”
As a plane departs, I know to say something like:
“United 245 Chicago departure radar contact. Climb and maintain flight level two three zero, resume own navigation direct Roberts.”
The plane is safely on its way because I applied the “bottom strip.”
This always reminds me that people will only be safely on their way to a right worldview about life (and their afterlife) when they understand that God’s Word-beginning in Genesis-is their necessary “bottom strip.”
Note: Due to the high demand for AiG speakers, including the popularity of Carl Kerby’s vibrant presentations, he has reduced his time as an air traffic controller so that he can spend more time speaking on behalf of AiG.
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