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Trust Your Instruments – the Bible

May 12, 2020

Even the bigger towns in Iowa seems like small towns everywhere else. So a plane crash is a big deal. The local airport services commuter connectors to Chicago and Minneapolis. The pilots tend to be younger, just starting their aviation careers. Two of them had a day’s layover and decided to take a plane up.  The cloud ceiling hung low and they wanted to log some hours flying in those conditions. Things were great for awhile. That’s why the plane crash came as a shock. No radio or mechanical failure of any kind. No turbulent weather. No medical emergency. A retired air traffic controller who investigated told me the pilots died because they broke one of the first rules of flying; that is, always trust your instruments. Apparently flying in thick soup can cause complete disorientation until the pilot can’t sense which way is up or down. The two in the plane panicked, going with their gut even though the instruments told them they were in a steep dive. They flew the plane straight into the ground.

No one knows how things on university and college campuses will shake out. We’re flying in thick soup. With all the challenges listed in the last post, I won’t be “going with my gut” or asking you to go with yours. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” (Proverbs 14:12 ESV) True – whether flying a plane or a life. But what can we trust? If all we bring to this moment is a motley stew of things stirred up out of our emotions, glands, opinions and confusion (all seasoned with end-of-term stress and that old reliable poison, self-centeredness), we could be heading for the ground. Is anything tipping us off to another way to go?

I will be using the Bible. The Bible has a voice, an undertow that keeps whispering (even to its critics) that its words can sustain the weight of our souls. It’s bedrock stuff that holds solid in face of our disagreements and aggravations with it. In the book review that comes in every Sunday New York Times, they interview a writer of some note as to their reading habits. What books would we find on your night stand? What books on your shelves would surprise us? Again and again, they cite the Bible and these people inhabit every corner of the metaphysical map. A prominent atheist with a well-travelled website raised a few eyebrows admitting that he intentionally read things he disagreed with to stretch the muscles of his thinking. And so he makes it a point to read the Bible almost daily.

We live in the shadow of a disease bruising many people in many ways. Students bear the weight of end=of-term things alongside survival issues. Faculty and campus ministry staff do triage with students online whose worlds are coming apart. And these same faculty and campus ministry staff simultaneously try to refigure how to do the things they love that drew them onto the campus in the first place. When my doctor hands me a prescription, she never asks for my opinion or preferences. Just take it. And I will gently do the same here. Want something solid that transcends our confusion and pours concrete under our slipping feet? Try Psalm 139. No limit on the dosage. Take it as often as necessary. Twice a day is a good start. There is one more thing laying traction underneath our times. Not a book but a person. His name is Jesus. I pilfered a church sign idea from a Mennonite super market (Sounds a little strange but they do exist.) It said, “Jesus knows me. This I love.”  He does whether we know Him or not. And nothing we can pull from our bag of tricks, shame or nightmares can scare Him away. More on Him next time.

If you think this might encourage college students or someone who loves them, then share, subscribe, Twitter and all that social media stuff. If this rings your bell, you might want to consider Geezer 1, the Facebook clubhouse for We’re a mix of students, student ministry staff, professors and administrators, theologians, broadcasters, booksellers, business people, pastors, musicians, visual artists, writers, enterpreneurs and a few campus rats who think that Jesus Christ thinks that campuses are pretty special places. You jumping in will only make us better. I also invite any questions concerning Christian faith and living. No names required but I do reserve the right to aask follow up questions to dignify your good question with a good answer.

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