Experienced pilots will tell you that instrument flying is all about faith – faith in the instruments. When a pilot is flying by instruments they are not concerned with how things look or feel, they are totally focused on the instrument panel and its gauges. They check their altitude, direction, fuel, navigation and many other factors all by paying close attention to the gauges in front of them.
As a chaplain I’ve had a few pilots come to talk with me after a hairy situation in the air. One of the scariest flights I recall was an experienced helicopter pilot bringing in a large CH-53 Sea Stallion onto the deck of an assault ship late at night in the middle of the sea during a rain storm. As he came in on approach he was monitoring his instrument panels and communicating with the flight deck when all of a sudden he got a short sudden feeling of what appeared to be vertigo. He found himself in a terrible quandary as his instrument panel stated one thing but his body was feeling something totally different. Contrary to his training he panicked and pulled up and away and forced to do another approach.
The pilot was thoroughly rattled. He had never ever felt such an overpowering sense of misdirection in his life. When it counted he relied on his feelings instead of the instrument panel and it brought on an overwhelming wave of fear. It also endangered his approach, destroyed his trust in his abilities, and caused him to abandon his approach.
The point isn’t to second-guess what he did wrong or pinpoint exactly what happened but I recall his biggest frustration as expressed to me was his inability to rely on the instruments instead of his feelings. Research on aviation mishaps shows that over 80% of flight mishaps are due to human error. Pilots have gotten disoriented and pull-up because they feel like they are descending when in fact instruments are calling for them to descend or lower the nose of the plane. In the dark, a storm or a spin-out you can't rely on your body or your eyes to properly orient you to reality. The instruments will not lie.
In today’s environment I find that Christians tend to do the same thing. We want to make conclusions, understand situations or respond to God by what we feel. We’ve become a society that interprets reality through our emotions. Yet emotions and sentiment are not only unreliable but they are rooted in our own unrighteousness and prejudices.
As Christians we understand that once we are in Christ we are in a continued state of transformation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. This means that the emotions, mores, ways and understanding of this world are no longer ours and the standard whereby we live our lives are to be rooted on scripture and scripture alone. Thus scripture becomes our instrument panel.
Our decisions, our understanding, and our doctrinal footings have to rest solely on the foundation of scripture. After all, the Bible is the holy word of God and reflects the character, will and desire of God. If we are not careful and we allow our emotions, our affiliation with the modern world and the wisdom of the lost to influence our thoughts on our faith we will experience a massive disorientation akin to the pilot on final approach.
We must be very intentional to build our foundation squarely on Christ. If we allow the things of the lost world to shape our ideas, our responses to God, what is righteous and unrighteous, what is of God and not we will soon be without bearings and unable to land where God wants us to be. Keep your eyes on the instruments, keep your eyes on scripture and scripture will reveal Christ.
For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. – 1 Corinthians 3:11
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. – Matthew 7:24