There’s no room for error when you fly low. On Friday, August 9, 2013, 13-year-old Sade Brantley and 1-year-old Madisyn Mitchell were killed when an airplane crashed into their home in East Haven, Connecticut. Former Microsoft executive, Bill Henningsgaard, who piloted the plane, and his 17-year-old son, Maxwell, were also killed in the crash. Bill’s 10-seat, propeller-driven plane was approaching Tweed New Haven Airport when the accident occurred.

While the cause of the accident is still under investigation, members of the National Transportation Safety Board said the plane, a Rockwell International Turbo Commander 690B, was flying upside-down when it hit two houses at a 60-degree angle. The pilot didn’t declare an emergency before the crash.

One thing is certain about the accident: Henningsgaard’s plane was flying very low because of the type of approach he was flying. My son, Pastor Jim (who is a pilot), told me this type of instrument approach is called a “circle-to-land approach” and can be dangerous because of low altitude maneuvering combined with low clouds. Anytime a plane is low, it can be a dangerous situation for a pilot because there is no margin for error. Any pilot will tell you the sky is their best friend, because the higher altitude gives them room to fix a problem if necessary.

The same is true in the Christian life. When we have a close walk with God, we are flying high and it’s a lot easier to correct errors in our thoughts and actions. When we are out of fellowship with God, we are drifting, and the errors get harder to change. (They also become more of a threat to our safety.)

Christian, the sky is your friend. Have you checked your altitude lately for signs of drifting? How often are you spending time in God’s Word and in prayer? Are you paying attention in church? Are you telling others about Christ? How is your attitude toward authority? Have you been holding a grudge against someone? Do you think more highly of yourself than you should? Is there prejudice in your heart towards people of a certain culture or skin shade? Do you believe God is able to show you clearly His will for your life? Take a moment to confess your shortcomings to God, and you can fly high again. This is the safest place you can be.

Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder