LAND THE PLANE by Pastor Rusty Brace
On the corner of my desk, on my nightstand, and even in my car you will find books that I haven’t read yet. Now I have bookcases full of books, but they don’t get there until I read them. There are so many books and so little time.
The BWCA is a great place to catch up on reading. This year I brought with me Everywhere Always by Bob Goff.1 Its 24 chapters are a loose confederation of short encouraging stories about living an ordinary life with extraordinary faith. One particular story stood out for me called Three Green Lights. It tells about how often in our lives we are nearly paralyzed when making decisions because we don’t feel like we have enough confirmation that it’s the right decision.
Bob is a small plane pilot and while flying alone to his hometown one evening only two out of three green lights lit up indicating his landing gear was down. There was no way to verify the wheel in the nose of the plane was down. It was too dark to see when he flew by the control tower. He didn’t have enough confirmation about whether it was safe to land. But what choice did he have?
As human beings there is an intrepid aspect to our nature that we may have suppressed. To grow, however, requires us to be brave. Bob proposes that Jesus never asks us to play it safe. Now let’s be real, there is a difference between “playing it safe” and “being safe”. He contends that playing it safe leaves us in the same condition we’ve always been in. Playing it safe does not help us grow and move forward.
In faith, we can dare to do things like loving people we don’t understand or agree with. Every day we get to decide how we fly. Do we keep flying high over the top of people who might be different from ourselves or land the plane and explore unfamiliar territory? Playing it safe means to stay flying high avoiding others; being safe means to risk knowing and loving others in a safe manner as we land the plane. We still maintain our personal safety; we do not become vulnerable. This isn’t intended to be a life or death experience. But the risk to know and value others is most certainly a life-changing experience.
Bob didn’t have a choice about trying to land the plane with only two out of three lights lit. Is that the only time we risk something new? When we either have to choose something new or crash? Or do we, in faith, risk going outside of ourselves trusting that God is there with us. As Bob states, “God may not give us all the green lights we want, but I’m confident [God] gives us all the green lights [God] wants us to have at the time.” There are always unknowns in life. Sometimes we ought to just go with what we’ve got for confirmation…but do so knowing that two green lights are always lit: God’s love for us and the biblical direction to love Everybody, Always.
Bob landed the plane…he had no choice. It turned out the wheel was down and a five-cent lightbulb was burned out. How many times do we fail to do something important or big because we had faulty information?
The chapter ends this way: “The difference between the number of green lights we want and the number we get from God is a pretty good description of what faith is. Faith isn’t knowing what we can’t see; it’s landing the plane anyway, rather than just circling the field. Get the plane on the ground.”
1Story theme and quotes:
Bob Goff, Everybody Always (Nashville, Nelson Books, 2018) chapter 10, pp. 85-94,