Trust Your Instruments
“Trust your instruments…trust your instruments…trust your instruments!!!” I must have heard that mantra hundreds of times when I was training for my instrument rating in flight school. It was drilled into my head so that my automatic response when all of my senses told me otherwise was to still trust the information the instruments were giving me. I never realized how important that mantra was until the first time my senses were truly lying.
For most of instrument flight training we used foggles to practice flying by the instruments in the aircraft. Foggles are what they sound like – foggy goggles. They cloud your vision from seeing outside the aircraft easily but allow you to still focus on the instruments inside the aircraft. They are a helpful tool for training but cannot really replicate what it feels like to truly fly into the clouds when all visual cues outside of the aircraft are completely lost.
I had the opportunity to actually fly through a thick layer of clouds on my first instrument cross-country flight. I departed the airport and hit the cloud layer at about 1,000 feet above the ground while we were still in a climb. I was not prepared for the sensations I was about to experience. It is amazing how the inner ear can play tricks on you when you have no visual cues. Almost immediately I had the sensation that we were in a steep climb, nearly vertical, which if true puts the aircraft in the very dangerous situation for a stall. It wasn’t true. I scanned my instruments furiously over and over. “Trust your instruments,” was playing on repeat in my head. Then it felt like the airplane was tumbling over backwards! “Trust your instruments.” As I scanned and crossed-checked my instruments all were reading exactly as they should. The aircraft was in a normal steady climb. In that moment I fully grasped the importance of the mantra my instructor had drilled into my head, “Trust your instruments.”
Spatial disorientation, as it is known in aviation, was the cause of 94 aircraft accidents and 3,066 fatalities in the 35 year period from 1980-2015. The danger is real when pilots do not trust their instruments or scan them properly.
1 John 3:19-20 says, “By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.”
In our modern culture the heart has become the barometer for truth. We are told to follow it wherever it leads us. However, like the inner ear to a pilot, the heart is a poor instrument to rely on when the clouds come rolling in. Jeremiah 17:9 even warns us that “the heart is deceitful above all things.”
The heart often lies to us when our vision is clouded, and the clouds of this life are myriad. They come in the form of our circumstances, the lies of Satan, the sins we commit and those committed against us. All these and many more can cause us to doubt the goodness of God, our relationship with him, and the forgiveness we have in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Instead, we feel guilt, shame, and condemnation because that is what our heart is telling us. So, how do we reassure our heart before God and set ourselves back on the right flight path of this life when our heart seems so certain? Trust your instruments!
1 John 3:20 calls us not to trust our heart but to put our trust in the God who is greater than our heart. Perhaps you are reading this even today with a feeling of condemnation in your heart. Your sin is just too great. What you have done is too evil, and you are too far from God to ever find acceptance. Perhaps you often live with a more subtle form of condemnation that tells you that you will never be a good mom, a loving husband, a faithful friend, or a content single person. Satan is happy to affirm your heart and say, “You are condemned!” But that is not our God’s voice! Our Father has given us a more reliable instrument to follow in the gospel of his beloved Son.
Paul’s contemplation of his own struggles with sin in Romans 7 leads him to despair of himself crying out in 7:24, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” However, in despairing of his own ability to overcome sin he is drawn to the one who has conquered sin, death, and evil on his behalf, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:25) What is the result of the salvation that Jesus offers to sinners like Paul and you and me? “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
Guilt? Trust your instruments! Shame? Trust your instruments! Condemnation? NO condemnation in Christ Jesus!
Whatever sick and evil thoughts you’ve had – God is Greater! Whatever lies and gossip and hurtful words have come out of your mouth – God is Greater! Whatever shameful acts you’ve committed with your body – God is Greater! And HE KNOWS EVERYTHING!!! No matter what you’ve done to deserve condemnation if you trust in Jesus for salvation then forgiveness, mercy, and acceptance is what you will receive. Jesus has taken all of the punishment that you deserve on the cross and given you his perfect righteousness. No more condemnation awaits those who trust in Jesus Christ. Jesus has conquered sin, death, and evil in his death and resurrection from the dead. Jesus has sent his Holy Spirit into the world to overcome our hard and condemning hearts so that we trust in the truth of God’s promises to us. The Holy Spirit reassures our heart before God, that through Jesus, we may confidently approach the throne of grace and receive mercy from a loving Father. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the only instrument worthy of our trust when the clouds of our sin and deceptive heart lead us astray. In Christ you are fully known AND fully loved. Trust this good news! When your heart condemns you – Trust in Jesus – he is greater than your heart!
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? – 1 John 5:4-5