In every airplane there are instruments that give a true reading of how the airplane is flying, even if a pilot’s mind may tell him differently. On a clear, sunny day a pilot may not need these instruments because he or she is able to see the ground and find landmarks and get his or her bearings. But at night or in poor visibility these instruments become vital to survival.
Lt. Col. Jeff Patton flew as a pilot in an F-15 fighter in Desert Storm. The first night of the war was chosen because the absence of moonlight and the high clouds kept the attacking fighters from being detected by enemy forces. And so, flying in total darkness, the pilots were completely dependent upon their instruments.
Shortly after crossing into Iraqi airspace, Col. Patton’s jet was “locked on” by an Iraqi surface-to-air missile. And so, he violently maneuvered his aircraft trying to break the radar’s lock on him. He successfully broke the lock, but his radical movements threw off all sense of balance and he was disoriented. His mind was telling him that his plane was climbing and making a right turn, but his instruments indicated that he was in a 60 degree dive going toward the ground. He was sure that he was in a climb instead of a dive, and his mind was screaming for him to lower the nose to halt his climb. But his instruments were telling him to do just the opposite. Because he was flying in total darkness, he had to decide quickly whether he was going to trust his mind or his instruments. His life totally depended on making the right decision.
Even though it took everything within him to overcome what his mind was telling him, he decided to trust his instruments. He rolled his wings level and pulled his F-15 upward, pulling the aircraft out of its dive. It only took a few moments to realize that he had made the right decision. If he had lowered his nose, like his mind had been telling him to do, he would have crashed his plane.
When we give our lives to Jesus Christ, we are trusting him to become the guiding instruments of our lives even though our minds may tell us to do just the opposite. To be honest, much of what Jesus teaches us runs totally contrary to what we human beings think is proper. We continue to vacillate between God’s instruction and our logic trying to decide which one we are going to believe.
Jesus said, “If anyone wants to follow me, they must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow me.” Self-denial is about handing the controls of our lives over to Jesus. Do not wait too late to put your trust totally in Christ. Too many people’s lives have “Crashed and burned” because they put their trust in themselves rather than God.
Tim Hobbs, Pastor