Analogy of the Day: Another Way To Do It

See the source image  Alternatives!

Just read a great blog which calls up an analogy from the world of flight.1

The analogy draws a comparison between . . .

The (A) — an airplane which has been put in a holding pattern (for an unknown reason)


The (B) — waiting on the Lord to make His will known and actual.



#1) The writer is skilled in the use of analogy.

First of all, David stays with the elements related to flight!  Some speakers and writers begin with one analogical concept (airplanes/ flight) and bring in other analogical concepts which are incongruous.  Just read one this week which went from the picture of – – – – a leaking container – – – – to spoiled fruit  – – – – – and ended with seeds & planting.

Second, he grabs the concepts which were related to landing, and even more specifically about being in a holding pattern.

There were no mixed metaphors or mixed analogies which gets an audience mentally and visually jumping around!   Let me say as an aside —  if the use of mixed metaphors don’t bother you it may be an indicator that “flow of thought” is missing in your speeches or messages.


#2) The writer hit on a great number of analogical words and phrases from the world of flight and specifically the landing of an airplane!

Here is a list of the terms and phrases used in the analogy.

a holding pattern
running out of fuel
midair refueling
up in the air
no contact with the tower
no permission to land
cycled through all the frequencies.   
tried to reach the tower
new destination
there were no further instructions
no permission to land.
will I just crash, out of fuel,
out of range of the tower’s guidance?
I have gone through the checklists
Maybe I have the call sign wrong.
Maybe I have the protocol wrong.
start the approach
ready to land
the conditions and the runway number
improperly stowed baggage
hijacker on board trying to take control
damage I am not aware
the wrong wavelength
cleared for landing.


#3) The writer runs both (A) and (B) together.  He calls up both parts of the analogical comparison  — (A) an airplane in a holding pattern & (B) the Christian’s waiting on God to reveal His will)  — as he goes.

I only say that because it highlights the fact that there are other ways to set up the use of a rhetorical analogy.  This is a common method, and it is a great example of an alternate way of doing it.

With this method, the (A) part is assumed to be already understood (and surely is), as you concurrently pull over the spiritual comparisons.

That is significantly different than what someone like Tony Evans is so well-known for doing when he uses a rhetorical analogy.

Evans sets up the (A) part of the analogy first — independently from the spiritual application.

He would take the above (A) material and do something like this. . . .

If you have taken many airplane flights, like I have, you know that there are times when the pilot is put into a holding pattern.  For a series of reasons, the pilot has been told to continue to circle the field.  Perhaps there are other flights which have already arrived and need to land, or the weather conditions need to improve before the final approach, or the condition of the runway needs to be addressed.

In some cases, the landing is delayed because a lot is happening in the cockpit right before landing.  The pilot needs to get on the right frequency with the controller who is directing him. He must adjust the plane’s approach to the runway.  The passengers must be properly alerted upon final approach.  He must be sure that he and his co-pilot have gone through the “checklist” before landing — making absolutely sure he has not forgotten something simple yet important.

In fact, there are times when the tower will see something visually as the airplane approaches which cause them concern  — like plane damage of which the pilot is not aware.  The plane may be requested to do a “fly around.”

Whatever the cause, he has not been given permission to land.  He circles the field in a miles-wide arc, waiting for landing instructions, not even knowing what runway number he will finally be landing on at that airport.

If you are in that plane circling, you may be thinking what I often think when I realize that we are going around and around, and not landing — I hope we have enough gas for all these circles!

Then, part (B) would follow . . . . .

That is what happens at times in the Christian life.  You were thinking that you were going to land on time, but you have been put into a holding pattern . . . . .



Don’t get stuck in a rhetorical rut! 

There is more than one way to skin a cat! 


An understanding of the value of variety helps a speaker-preacher use and develop options.

Remember, a preacher is a “serial speaker,” talking to a “serial audience.”  If you stay with the same approach in preparation and presentation, the audience may mentally check out at this-or-that portion — “Open your Bibles to . . . .  We are looking at . . . . Let me conclude . . . . . ”



1. David Peever’s WordPress Post Below:

David Peever is a great writer and is given to the use of analogy in many of his posts, which is what makes him so effective.

Check out his blog at []


“We have all found ourselves stuck in a holding pattern. For me it has been 2 ½ years of a holding pattern and I must say I am not far from running out of fuel! There have been a few midair refuelling opportunities but it has been a long time since I have landed anywhere. Things remain up in the air; no contact with the tower and no permission to land. I remain in a holding pattern, playing the waiting game, a game I always seem to lose even though I play it so well.

I have cycled through all the frequencies.                                 

I have tried to reach the tower but each new attempt leaves me circling without new instructions. I thought I heard a voice a few times. I thought I understood what I was being told to do. Sadly, when I arrived at the new destination there were no further instructions, no permission to land.

Again, I am left wondering when I will land, where I will land, will I just crash, out of fuel, out of options and out of range of the tower’s guidance? I am still circling, still hoping. I haven’t given up, well at least I haven’t remained in a state of hopelessness. Each new day I think maybe this will be the day I hear from the tower, this will be the day I finally land somewhere and, for a while there is hope but only for a while.

I have gone through the checklists to see what I missed.

Maybe I have the call sign wrong. A few wrong words may mean the tower cannot understand my request or cannot grant it. I have tried everything from demanding to inquiring, asking nicely to firm assertions. I’ve named what I want, claimed what I want and even threatened to take what I want but I am left in a holding pattern.

Maybe I have the protocol wrong. There could be steps that I must take first. Maybe if I start the approach there will be a response from the tower. Maybe it will convince the tower that I am committed and ready to land leading the tower to further instruct me on the conditions and the runway number. I have made many unsanctioned approaches but nothing, no response so I pull up and return to a holding pattern.

Maybe I have not addressed some issues. It could be that there are things wrong, things that could, if left unaddressed, lead to a crash. Maybe I have some improperly stowed baggage. Maybe I have an evil hijacker on board trying to take control. Maybe there is damage I am not aware needs to be addressed before the tower will let me land and that’s why I am left in a holding pattern.

I am in a holding pattern feeling unheard and alone.

We all have been there; at least I figure I am not the only one. I try to contact the tower, I want the safety of being on the ground, landing in the place I am called to be but no answer.

I figure that I may be on the wrong wavelength, maybe I am not praying enough or at the wrong time. It could be that I am too far from God and need to get closer. Somehow I have to find His frequency and get on it.

Maybe I am praying all wrong. There must be some magic words or order of words or maybe an action that matches the words that will open communications with the tower and I would be cleared for landing.

Maybe if I just tell God He has to answer, demand that He let me land and instruct Him on where and when or better still just step out on faith and do what I think should be done, then the tower would say cleared for landing.

Maybe if I could just get rid of that negative memory or address that sin that trips me up every once in a while. Maybe if I told Satan he had no power over me, then the tower would respond cleared for landing.

I am in a holding pattern with no response from the tower, no permission to land. It turns out that it’s okay because the one who makes all the flight plans, the one who has put me in this holding pattern, the one who has not given me permission to land said through his prophet: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them [or anything], for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)




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