Dr. Erwin Lutzer, Pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, relates the story of flying on an airplane when the man sitting next to him, a former commercial pilot and now the owner of a small plane, said to him, "People make the mistake of thinking that large airplanes are safer than small ones. They make that mistake because the number of small airplane crashes greatly exceed the number of large airplane crashes. People assume that it is because small planes are not as safe, but that is not true. Small planes are just as safe as large ones, the problem is most small plane pilots simply lack experience."
He went on to explain, "The problem in almost everyone of these small plane crashes ends up being pilot error. The pilot, rather than trusting his instrument panel, goes by his feelings and adjusts his plane accordingly. If he would simply trust that the gauges are correct and go by them rather than what his mind is telling him, most of those crashes would never happen."
You know a similar thing happens in the Christian life. How many times do I see once committed Christians "crash and burn" because of some storm they find themselves in. Rather than keeping their eyes on Jesus, they turn instead to view their circumstances and once they do that, their feelings lead them to make disastrous decisions.
More than one such person has said to me, "I tried Jesus and he didn't work."
Perhaps you are in some storm right now. Like Peter of old, you made the first steps toward Jesus, but then, distracted by the wind and the waves you have begun to sink. But unlike Peter, rather than calling out to Jesus to save you, you have concluded that there is no hope and he will be of no help. After all, if he was, you wouldn't be in the predicament you are in! (If you want to read the account to which I am referring here, go to Matthew 14:22-32).
Just as the pilot must put aside his feelings and trust his instruments if he or she plans to arrive at their final destination safely, so, too, must the Christian put aside their feelings in favor of the facts of God's promises.
Feelings will mislead you. If your faith is based on feelings, it is not a matter of if you will go down, only a matter of when you will go down.
Similarly, if your faith is determined by how you view the circumstances around you, you will never know from one minute to the next as to whether God loves you or not. Eventually the circumstances will be such that your feelings cause you to crash and burn.
One of my favorite passages in all of Scripture is Hebrews 12:1-2: "As for us, we have this large crowd of witnesses round us. So then, let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. He did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right-hand side of God's throne" (Hebrews 12:1-2, GNT).
"He didn't give up because of the cross ..." The Christian life is not a bed of roses nor is it a walk in the park. God never promises to put his children, no matter how faithful they think they are, in a protective bubble. If your faith has led you to believe you should never have difficulty, your faith may be a fine sentiment, but it is not a Biblical faith, and such a faith is certain to crash and burn.
We do not put our faith in faith. We put it in Jesus, who is the author and finisher of faith. Trust him, bring your feelings captive to the instrument panel of truth, and your Christian flight will prove successful.
Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington. For more information, visit the Gateway website at www.gatewaycommunity.org.