Be the Fighter Pilot

We loved living at our camp house in Oklahoma. Once you turned into the camp entrance, it was a two-mile drive back into the property to get to the house. It was a great place for company. This time it was Russ and his son Malachi visiting.

As always, most of my time was occupied scrambling around the camp, so Russ took the boys in his truck to enjoy swimming, fishing, and horseback riding. They had just pulled back into the drive. Everyone was gathering up the masks, snorkels and wet towels before coming in the house. Except for my oldest son, Micah. It seems that during the ride, a little white airsoft BB had caught his attention. I suppose it was the sound of it rolling around the cab floor, mostly the magpie effect I’m sure. He decided to pick it up for a closer look. After a thorough inspection of the BB, he did the only logical thing one could do, he stuck it in his ear.

(I know what you’re thinking, but sometimes “why” is the wrong question for problem solving.)

Had he just put the BB slightly in his ear, this story would be over. Micah’s not a “half-way” kid. It was important for him, in that moment, to get the BB as far down the ear canal as possible, having no idea the chaos it would set off in the Burris household.
For the next week, our family had one goal that superseded all other obligations. Get that BB out. On first glance, it looked like it was going to be so easy. You could see it in there and Micah was so calm about it. We tried every pair of tweezers in the house to no avail, then went out and bought one of every kind off the WalMart shelf. No luck. All we did was make it worse. We tried hot compresses, cold compresses, ear wax candles, and suction. Nothing was working and this was just Day One.

Monday morning Kate took him into the primary care physician. Their tweezers didn’t work either. She left with a referral to an ear-nose-and throat specialist. Micah was getting more uncomfortable each day. Everyone we talked to suggested a remedy and we tried them all. His ear canal had become red and swollen, mostly from all the digging. He wasn’t sleeping well and neither were we. Our repeated attempts only made Micah more agitated. By the time he arrived at the ENT, it was difficult to go near his ear without a protest.

I’m sure this young ENT is a fine doctor by now but his demeanor wasn’t instilling confidence in me and Micah caught the same vibe. Everything about his manner sent a message that he was unsure if he had what it was going to take to get the BB out. He responded to Micah’s fear with hesitancy. He inspected and re-inspected the ear. Pulled his tray of accoutrements over and tried one after the other with no success. After a few attempts he sent us home and told us to come back the next morning to let his partner take a stab at it (bad choice of puns).

Not much sleeping in the Burris house that night. We had no choice but to wait. By this time, we were into this BB to the tune of $800 and we had run out of options.


The next morning, we are sitting in the exam room and in walks the new ENT. I knew the second he opened the door, this BB was coming out today. It wasn’t swagger exactly but he carried himself like a fighter pilot. No telling what else this guy had mined from ears in his career. But this wasn’t his first rodeo. He was pleasant but wasted little time with small talk. After a brief reassuring conversation with Micah, he reached over and grabbed one instrument off the tray. Less than 10 seconds later the BB was out. That was it. No need for threats of punishment or bribes of rewards for Micah to lay still. The airsoft BB saga was over.

The problem the rest of us struggled with for days, this guy solved in seconds. He had plenty of options of how he could have walked into that room. He could have chosen not to come into the room at all. We might have been really impressed to hear his pedigree or mildly interested to learn his golf handicap, but we needed a little plastic BB out of an ear and that is what he showed up to handle. We were all glad he did.

As I finish this message I am just a few hours from boarding a flight to Tegucigalpa with my family. For the fifth year in-a-row, we will have the privilege of spending our week with some amazing kiddos. I also get to spend the time with one of my great friends, Artie. Artie pastors Christ Community Church in Ardmore, Oklahoma. He sent me a message a couple of days ago to ask if I would speak at the church service on Sunday. What I intend to share is related to what I am sharing here.

Bear with me now. Even if a “sermon” is not your cup of tea, there is something here for you. I promise.

The boys and I recently came across a story in the book of Judges. I guess I never got it before but when I did, I couldn’t believe how powerful it was. I’ll give you the most-brief version possible.

The Angel of the Lord (Jesus) comes down, sits under a tree. Along comes Gideon. Jesus say’s,

“Hello there Mighty Warrior.”

Gideon then proceeds to expend nearly every ounce of energy he can muster to tell Jesus why he is NOT, in fact, a mighty warrior. He puts on quite a show trying to prove his point.


Jesus is very patient with him but at one point he finally says to Gideon.

“Go in your strength. I am with you.”

Talk about an ‘AH-HA!’ moment. When I heard that I felt like GRU from Despicable Me

“Light Bulb!”

That’s it isn’t it. We need to “show up” in life with our strength. Go in our strength. Be the fighter pilot of our life – the hero of our own story.

Gideon was a Mighty Warrior. He went on to do plenty of butt kickin’. (for Jesus… For my sensitive friends).


He was the guy for the job. Who else is going to be the hero of our story? What is the hunger in the world you were made to feed? Go in your strength and do it. You are NOT alone.


Rick Burris


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.