In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25
What? Really? You’re kidding? Several years ago, something happened that made the national news and caused quite a stir for a particular airline. It seems that a Southwest Airlines flight was on its way to Branson, Missouri. It was dark and for a lot of us even driving a car in the dark is a deal but that’s nothing for professional pilots. Anyway, as they made their approach to the airport, they saw lights and a runway and performed a perfect landing–at the wrong airport. How in the world did that happen?
Well, when asked, it turns out the pilots were a little confused. They saw the lights and assumed that it was the Branson airport which of course, it wasn’t. Now all that might seem somewhat forgivable…I mean everyone makes a mistake. But one small factor makes forgiveness a little more difficult: electronics. Now I am not a pilot, but I do know that modern avionics do an amazing job helping the pilot fly the plane. My nephew and brother-on-law fly professionally, and they sometimes share with me about the amazing aircraft they fly.
There was a story on the news that expressed concern that the aircraft and all its electronics perhaps do too much of the flying of the aircraft. In the case of the mistaken airport, we can only presume that the avionics were doing their job and had the plane headed in the right direction. At some point, the pilots took over, ignored all that the electronics were telling them and made a big and potentially disastrous mistake. I can just hear their GPS saying, “Turn around when possible.” Ok, that’s stretching it but the bottom line remains–the instruments were telling them the truth, but they did what they thought was right. Oops.
We have such a terrible tendency to do the same. God gave us His Word not as a bunch of do’s and don’ts but rather as a guidebook, a GPS, if you will, to get us through life. It gives us good solid advice and points us in the way we should go. If we choose to ignore it, well, we can metaphorically end up at the “wrong airport” or worse than that in a devastating fiery crash with equally disastrous consequences. Either because of circumstances or our stubborn pride, we sometimes just insist on doing what we think is right—even when we know better.
The Bible speaks of this in Judges 21:25 “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” In other words, in the vacuum of leadership, the people did whatever they wanted. Does that somehow sound familiar? Growing up in the sixties I thought we did a pretty good job of doing our own thing, but I do believe that culture today is showing us up. It’s not that we don’t know better. It’s not that we don’t have something to guide us. It’s not that we don’t have a king—no, there is a King–we just tend to ignore Him when it gets too uncomfortable or goes against our grain.
In the case of the Southwest pilots, they were very fortunate because the consequences were smaller than they could have been. They had to answer for their actions and I’m sure they either lost their jobs or were sent back to “driver’s education.” But let’s be honest. Sometimes what was true for them is also true for us. We just get sloppy in our living and well, that leads down a path we just need to avoid.
A lot of the “rough air” and “pilot error” we experience in life can be avoided if we will take the time to read the Book, trust the Book, and apply the Book. But even then, we won’t always get it right. No one, including pilots, are perfect. The good news is that when we fail and even when we crash there is grace. The One who made us all is ready and willing to forgive us of all our errors and sins. We just need to ask. And if we will, and when we do, we can rest assured that, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne