*”Dogfighting is both an art and a science.” I’m not talking about an illegal back ally pitbull fight, but rather aerial combat. “To be successful at this, a fighter pilot must understand geometry, physics and aerodynamics. The application of this collective knowledge takes place in a dynamic, fluid and unforgiving environment. In one on one air combat, creativity, ingenuity and confidence identify the victorious; hesitation and uncertainty define the defeated.” The objective is to kill and survive in the aerial combat arena. If you’ve ever seen the movie Top Gun, you’ve witnessed the best Hollywood replication of a ‘dogfight’.
As Mila’s dad, life for the past sixteen months has been like a ‘dogfight’! As a fighter pilot, life’s experiences in principle are extremely similar to those of my profession. I remember a time when just hours prior to her surgery I looked into my eight day old daughter’s eyes and I imagined seeing her first steps, her training wheels coming off, her first flight with dad, the father/daughter dance and a smile invitingly crept unto my face. The moment was then suddenly extinguished at the fleeting thought that my daughter could possibly not survive surgery, and I could be making funeral arrangements instead. It was an awful feeling that cut like a dull yet sharp knife being repeatedly raked across my chest. At that moment Mila physically possessed more heart than I did. As a father, husband, provider, protector I was helpless. As a man I’m supposed to shield my family from the troubles of this world. I would endure a thousand surgeries just so Mila could avoid her three. Helpless with nothing more than air in my lungs and warm blood in my veins all I could do was pray. I would soon learn that this seemingly ghastly ordeal would usher a rebirth of my faith. (ref Proverbs 3:5).
As fighter pilots we go to win 10 out of 10 times, decisively. When strapped into my jet I have the power to single handedly protect thousands of people at once. Looking at Mila lying in the ICU with seemingly more wires, hoses and monitors than flesh, was painful. My faith was truly tested. I had no control of this situation. I have known and served God all my life. I always prayed, worshiped and attended church but it wasn’t until Mila, that I discovered a relationship like no other with Christ. Why did I neglect to give the very God I worshiped relationship until now? It wasn’t just me anymore, but my vulnerable and defenseless child and my wife, which God had now charged me to provide for and protect. God wanted me to surrender not just this situation but all situations to him. I had to let go of the fears, doubts and inhibitions. With this revelation, I felt emboldened like a mad bull, a battleship looking for a fight! “I have God on my side, what?!” I no longer imagined “what if” pertaining to Mila. In God’s infinite wisdom I prayed for my child’s strength to endure surgery and my strength to endure His will.
Four weeks into our ten week hospital stay God shared something special with me. In the Holy Bible the common theme amongst the many chapters and verses is adversity that is overcome with overwhelming triumph. The Bible speaks of many significant men and women, however there is no mention of the many that were asked to build the Ark but failed in the face of adversity. Only Noah saw it through when the message was delivered and didn’t quit. There were many sick and stripped Christians but only Job remained faithful in spite of his plight, with uncompromising faith. There were many men who God asked but all lacked the faith to lead, but Moses. To put it simply, many men and women auditioned to be in God’s cast (The Bible) but only a few were selected per their free will of faith. I knew then I was being observed by God for greatness with this trial. I can’t quit, give up or lose faith. I want my family to make the final cut and be listed as a member of God’s all star cast. The Bible is a living document and is no different today than it was a thousand years ago. In my desire to live in God’s perfect will for my life, I make myself accountable to him. Yes, I’m accountable to Maya and Mila as a husband and father, but more importantly I’m accountable to Christ. My fear in disappointing God is sturdy (ref Psalm 111:10) and He’s counting on me to see the mission to the end not abort it in fear.
Jesus is my F-16 fighter armed to the teeth, with 2000 lbs of laser guided bunker buster bombs and heat seeking missiles. God is now my most lethal weapon on this mission and with this intrepid conviction I am not limited, I am not hesitant and my faith will make me victorious in battle. I thank God everyday for Mila with her physically under developed heart. God thought proudly of Maya and I to give her to us. He knew it would be difficult but he put us together for this very trial. We were made for this moment! To the average person that would sound crazy, loony, and downright asinine, but seeing God’s glory is really a matter of closing your eyes. I will conquer the enemy’s plan to rob and destroy, I will not walk away from this battle limping, I will be victorious in this ‘dogfight’ for my daughter! I wouldn’t trade this little half heart princess for the world. I’m truly excited about her life and the people she’ll inspire, especially me. Her story is already one of triumph and not failure! (ref 1 Peter 4:12)