“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5)
He was eighty-seven years old, one of the WW II veterans who are quickly passing off the scene. For that reason, our American History professor thought it would be both interesting and informative for our class to hear and see him. We have been studying that time in our nation’s history—the time Tom Brokaw refers to in his book, The Greatest Generation. John Pershing Glick, our honored guest, flew C-47 aircraft in many missions over Germany and France, carrying troops, fuel, food, ammunition, etc., to forces under the command of men like George Patton. I was glad to be able to hear him and to have the opportunity to personally thank him for his service.
One thing he emphasized, and that he felt saved his life more than once, was his thorough training to always fly according to the navigation instruments, not his own instinct. In fact, during part of his flight training, he was made to fly with a curtain over the windows. He made the observation that John Kennedy Jr., whose plane went down over Martha’s Vineyard several years ago, made this fatal mistake. If he had followed the instrument panel and not his own instinct, that young man (and his wife) might be alive today.
My mind immediately went to this verse in Proverbs, and I was reminded that, for all our good intentions, and no matter how seasoned a Christian we may be, when we start trusting our instincts instead of the “Instruction Book,” we’re headed for disaster. For some reason, there is an independent streak in all of us that has a strong suspicion that no one—not even God—knows what is best for us. Whether it’s our intelligence or our much-praised common sense (which may only be common to us!), it all boils down to leaning toward our own understanding. You see, instinct, an innate impulse or natural tendency, is vulnerable to our senses, always a dangerous gauge for anything; whereas, the Word of God that says “Thou shalt not bear false witness,” “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” “Thou shalt not steal,” does not change when we feel we need to bend the truth to cover ourselves, or “fall in love” and sleep with someone outside the bonds of marriage, or rationalize keeping for ourselves what belongs to another. The readings from the instrument panel of the Bible remain constant. And to rely on anything else, especially our own understanding or instincts, is to risk a spiritual crash.
This may seem like blind faith, but what could be blinder than faulty, fickle feelings? The lights in the control tower are there, whether I see them or not, and if I’m willing to disregard my own instincts, I’ll see them again (“…in thy light shall we see light” Psl.36:9).