The world seems to be getting more and more unsettled, so much conflict and distress right across the world. I don’t know about you but often I find myself thinking that it’s all spiralling out of control and that actually there is nothing I can do, and that puts me way out of my comfort zone. Most of us have experiences that take us out of our comfort zone, things that we just do not know how to handle or stuff that we have to do in life that we just do not feel comfortable with but has to be done … like flying in helicopters ….

For two years during my time in the Navy I was a member of the Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) staff based in Plymouth. The closest I can think of in civilian terms would be OFSTED for ships! Ships would come to FOST for 4 to 6 weeks to get trained up in all basic aspects of running a warship, including fire fighting, damage control and of course all the various aspects of a ships operational tasking. So there were Air Defence exercises, anti submarine work, replenishment at sea, man overboard exercises, basically anything that a ship could ever be asked to do we were trained in and then of course inspected! I was a Weapons Engineer so used to look at the ships equipment and see that it was working properly and well maintained etc. We would join the ships normally in Plymouth Sound by a boat transfer, but quite often we would have to fly out to join the ship further out at sea. Now this is where I rapidly came out of my comfort zone.

We had to undergo the ‘Dunker’ training. This was basically a simulator where we had to learn and practice escape drills in case of an aircraft ditch at sea. The final run was in the dark and the simulator turned upside down as it entered the water. I did not enjoy this at all. Then came the routine flying. Mostly we would take off from a helo pad at Plymouth airport and land on the flight deck of whichever ship we were working on. Every time I got in the aircraft I did not feel comfortable, thinking back to my training I just felt that if we did crash it was the end – not a hope of getting out in my opinion! Now, occasionally we would require to be winched down to the ship.

We were working with a Norwegian ship, me and my mate had to go onboard overnight to cover an anti submarine exercise. This ship was basically a flat bottomed patrol craft designed for operating in the Norwegian fjords, not the choppy waters of the English channel; in any kind of swell she rolled like a pig and had no flight deck. As we approached I was first on the winch wire and sat on the edge of the open door waiting to be winched down. The air crewman who was supervising tapped me on the shoulder and pointed down at the ship … where I saw one of the guys waiting to be winched up being violently sea sick over the side … I really did not want to go, was way out of my comfort zone… the air-crewman smiled and started to winch me down. Lets just say it was not a pleasant night.

Life very often takes us out of our comfort zone… the Bible talks about God being there for us at all times, he doesn’t say that everything will be great and we will always feel comfortable. What he does say is that he will be there with us when we are dangling on the end of the winch wire, or whatever it may be that takes us into that uncomfortable or unknown place. Thing is God doesn’t want us to feel uncomfortable… the Bible tells the story of a guy called Joshua who God called to lead the people of Israel, but he really did not feel up to the task, felt totally inadequate… and questioned God… but God said this to him …

Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.”

And he went on to lead his nation in amazing ways … so although he still had to continue in the task that he felt was beyond him, he trusted that God would be with him and give him the strength he needed for what lay ahead… give it a go … ask God to be with you in your journey… the well known Psalm 23 (which begins ‘The Lords my shepherd’) also says this…

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.

Until next time… Cheers and blessings


Image Credit: NASA