Descending through four thousand feet, the twin engine Beech Baron was purring like the happiest of felines as it maneuvered through a cloudless sky. Above, twinkling stars were beginning to reveal their positions as the weary pilot prepped his bird for landing. Glancing out the left window, he was comforted by the fact his wings were secure, their smooth surfaces generating the lift needed to stay aloft and right side up.

Thanking God for a safe flight, he reached for a lever close to his knee and tapped it once. A vibration told him the flaps were extending. The veteran aviator lowered the landing gear and adjusted his seatbelt one last time. Then he set flaps to full and keyed his radio microphone, "Owensville Tower, Skywest four-seven is ten miles west, inbound for landing."

Once he received landing clearance, the pilot made small adjustments to keep his airplane aimed at the centre line of the illuminated runway. Concentrating fiercely, his goal as always was a trouble free landing where the wheels kissed the tarmac with hardly a bump. If only life brimmed with soft landings and light winds, he reflected. At fifty-six, the man knew that life packed a punch. It was during those difficult times that he was most grateful for his faith.

Anxious for a hot cup of coffee inside the terminal, the pilot smiled and adjusted the trim; then the unthinkable happened: A sudden cross wind hammered the aircraft, launching it violently to the right. Stunned by the sudden loss of control, he kicked in left rudder and yanked the control yoke in the opposite direction. The airplane levelled off briefly, but then rolled again to the right. Fighting to regain stable flight, he knew something had gone terribly wrong. As his face contorted with the realization he was about to crash, there was still one emergency procedure that could save his life...

With his index finger shaking, the pilot quickly reached for the only button that could prevent calamity: The 'PAUSE' button! Mere seconds from disaster, his airplane suddenly froze on the computer screen. Sitting back in his chair, the haggard pilot wiped his brow and breathed a huge sigh of relief. Crisis averted!

So where am I going with this flying yarn? Let me explain! I'm a flight simulator pilot, a virtual aviator! And the guy in the story is me! Whether its clear skies or storm clouds, the experience transports me into a world of make believe.

But we all know that real life stresses are anything but simulated. Have you ever wished your life came with a 'pause' button, that at the first sign of trouble, you could hit 'P' and simply halt the pain, grief or sorrow long enough to plan an exit strategy?

I don't know your circumstances, but I do know that we're all going through something. Perhaps it's job loss, financial hardship or an unexpected illness. Or maybe the garage door came down on your brand new Ferrari! Ouch! If life's good for you right now; fantastic! But one thing is certain: rough air will eventually rock your wings and send you spiralling towards the ground.

We all know that sidelining the stresses in our lives is impossible, but even so, do you have a game plan for enduring those trials? Whatever it is you're facing right now or will face in the future, might I encourage you to pause long enough to speak to the One who gave His life for yours?

Including God in your circumstances and laying your baggage at the foot of the cross will quiet your heart before our Savior Jesus Christ. Cool thing is; He hears you and promises rest! Psalms 94:19 (NIV) puts it this way: "When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy." I'm totally good with that!

Jesus understood better than anyone the dynamic power of prayer and He encourages us to follow His lead. He's fully tuned in, so everything we face in life is already on His radar! So incredibly enough, we don't have to go it alone!

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight." Those three little words, "trust", "lean" and "submit" are fueled by our prayers. Prayer breeds trust, allowing our hearts to lean on God for support. Through prayer, we learn to submit our lives Him.

If your life is crazy busy like mine, I know that stopping to pray to is easier said than done. But when I do, I've discovered that peace, trust and submission take root in my weary heart. And isn't confidence and full dependence on God what we as believers ultimately strive for?

God tells us in Matthew 7:7 (NIV), "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." One of the best ways to knock on God's front door is through prayer. He cherishes you and delights in the time you spend conversing with Him or reading His word.

So has my own life been trouble free? That's a gargantuan negative! There have been times when the sky before me looked impenetrable and the horizon bristled with choking grey clouds. But I'm slowly learning to cast my burdens by pausing the chaos long enough to pray. Prayer brings a smile to my lips and peace to my heart...and guaranteed it will to yours also!

Your words don't have to be eloquent or perfectly phrased. God knows what you need even before you ask Him for it! So I encourage you to let Him pilot your life. All you need to do is sit in the backseat, hit the 'pause button' and pray!

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a plane to save!

Paul Smyth