From Jim O'Brien
November 03, 2017

Hi Friend,

Lost in the Wild

It was a funeral in West Virginia and I trusted the GPS to guide us to the church, which was a bit remote. The female voice that we affectionately refer to as "Bossie" was providing directions that I diligently followed. We were moving into unfamiliar territory when she directed us to turn off of the main road onto what looked more like a residential street in a rural area.

We were still an hour from the destination so doubts came to mind about Bossie's credibility, but at this stage I reasoned that I had to rely on the GPS. It was the only map I had. This was no time to strike out on my own.

In a few miles the smooth, wide pavement narrowed to an older, rougher road. "I don't like this!" I told Bossie, but she did not respond. A few more miles and the narrow paved road became a gravel road. "What is this?" I shouted at Bossie. "Don't tell me a GPS can't tell the difference between paved roads and gravel!"

Now we were in the mountains creeping around hairpin turns on a gravel road with no place to turn around. I was committed to following whatever road lay ahead. Have I mentioned that my wife was not happy-with me?

The gravel road turned to dirt-yes, as in stuff that erodes in the rain-and of course there was light rain falling. "What if I meet a big 4-wheel drive pickup truck coming from the other direction?" I thought. No room to pass-I can't turn around and I can't back up.

As if things couldn't get worse we rounded a curve to see a bridge. I'm not sure this bridge had been constructed by the highway department-but for that matter neither had the road. There was a sign that said something like "Load Limit-3 tons". It may have been built for bicycles but we crossed it successfully and eventually found a paved road that took us to a highway-the same highway we had been on before Bossie instructed us to turn.

Eventually we arrived at the church where the funeral had already started.

After the funeral my wife related the experience to a friend who had lived in the mountains. "That's how people get killed!" she exclaimed. She explained all the disasters that could have occurred-running out of gas, no cell phone service, road closure, bridge out, etc.

Now all of this is said to illustrate that we all follow directions that are often provided by people we don't know. As a pilot I often followed directions from a voice connected to a total stranger in the control tower. I trusted him.

But there is a rule when flying. The pilot is in control of the aircraft-not the control tower. His first responsibility is to fly the airplane. Radio communication is second to flying the aircraft. When Captain "Sully" Sullenberger was flying a US Airways commercial jet, a flock of geese was sucked into the engines immediately after takeoff, disabling the aircraft. Sully chose to land in the Hudson River, a decision that was widely criticized, until a thorough investigation revealed that the plane would have crashed if he had attempted to reach an airport. Sully had to make the decision.

There is a similar rule contained in the first, and most important, commandment that applies to our relationship to God. In a nutshell, the rule is, Jesus Christ died for me, not the person who claims to be a Prophet. A couple of Jehovah's Witnesses came to my door this afternoon. They told me I was wrong for believing the Ten Commandments. "They were changed," they told me. The lady reminded me of my GPS that told me to turn off the main road. Telling her that God wrote these words with His own finger and spoke to two and a half million people did not seem to register on her mind. I decided it was safer to believe God than a stranger who just knocked on my front door.

Sometimes, you just have to fly your own plane, regardless of what the GPS says.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien