Flying by the Seat of Our Pants :: By Grant Phillips

To “fly by the seat of your pants” is an idiom that first referenced pilots who began flying at the beginning of aviation. Of course, we immediately think of Orville and Wilbur Wright. They had no instruments, previous experience, training or books. They flew by the seat of their pants, hoping all would work out to their benefit.

Following are some definitions I discovered for “flying by the seat of your pants” on the Internet:

  • Without a clear plan or direction
  • Sheer luck and use of intuition
  • In a manner based on intuition and experience rather than method
  • Using experience, guesswork, or instinct rather than some calculated or scientific method
  • Using only your own experience and trusting your own judgment
  • To decide a course of action as you go along, using your own initiative and perceptions
  • To pilot a plane by feel and instincts rather than instruments

Obviously “flying by the seat of one’s pants” doesn’t require actual flight. It can refer to many circumstances other than aviation. For example:

Have you ever met _____ (pick a name)? He’s the guy who has a quarter tank of gas in his truck and knows there isn’t another gas station for the next 100 miles, but instead of stopping for gas, he thinks he can make it.

Then there is _____ (pick a name). She’s trying to use her cell phone, but notices it is powered off and won’t come back on. For some reason, this happens to her a lot. Let me think now. When did you say you charged it last?

And then there is Mr. _____ (pick a name). His wife just bought a very large swing set for the young ‘uns. It came with assembly instructions, but what does this guy do? He ignores the instructions and goes by the picture on the box. (I must confess. I’m guilty.)

Now, let’s don’t forget little Miss _____ (pick a name). Her high school English teacher is giving them a big test tomorrow, but it’s all “True or False,” so she has a 50/50 chance of getting the answers correct anyway. So she decides to enjoy herself at the dance tonight, and trust her luck tomorrow.

All of these dear souls are “flying by the seat of their pants,” just hoping it will work out for them. I shudder to think of how many people are in hell today because they spent their life “flying by the seat of their pants,” hoping it would all work out for them in the end.

If you run out of gas, it may be a miserable day trying to get that resolved, but it can be done.

You may have to wait for your cell phone to be charged, but it will happen.

If worse comes to worst, you can always pick up the assembly instructions and start over. Then the swing set will eventually look like the picture on the box.

If you fail the test, you can actually study for all the remaining tests and possibly improve your grade.

There is always some way to pick up the pieces. Bad decisions on earth can be corrected by making the right decisions in the future. A lesson can be learned by the silly things we do, thereby improving how we proceed in the future.

However, “flying by the seat of our pants” concerning our eternal souls cannot be altered once our body dies. There is only one way we can have eternal life, and that is through Jesus Christ.

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

If we have placed our trust in Jesus, then die, all is well. He promised, and He does not lie.

Unfortunately, millions and millions of people are “flying by the seat of their pants” concerning where they will spend eternity. They’re thinking:

  • I think I can get there with what I have in the tank or
  • I think I’ll put it off just a little longer or
  • I believe I can do it on my own or
  • I think my luck will hold out.

Here’s something else to think about.

  • When we live our lives with our trust in Jesus, our tank is always full.
  • When we spend time in prayer, our battery is always charged.
  • When we follow God’s instructions, we will resemble His Son.
  • When we study His Word, we won’t have to guess; we’ll know what to do.

There is nothing in this world that is as important as our soul. Our soul, the real us, will live forever, and ever, and ever either in Heaven or hell. This earthly body is only temporary. When we go into eternity, God will give us a new body, one that is suited for eternity. Our soul, the real us, will live in that new body in either Heaven or hell. Have you noticed that it always comes back to Heaven or hell?

If we flitter away our lives here “flying by the seat of our pants,” we have nothing to look forward to but an eternity of indescribable misery in hell. Those who are wise will choose to rest their faith in the death, burial and resurrection of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who saves us. Only in Him can we have an eternity of indescribable joy with Him in Heaven.

Grant Phillips


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