A Lamp To Lead Us

April 11, 2000
by Harvey Freeman

1 Peter 4:14 – Happy are you if you are insulted because you are Christ's followers; this means that the glorious Spirit, the Spirit of God, is resting on you. (GNB)

It might be something we have in common with the opossums that "go dead" in the face of danger. It is a trick that does work for them sometimes, but hysteria is a dysfunction for people, when in the face of present danger our minds may "freeze" or not function in a normal efficient way, and we may do things which are irrational.

Early in aviation it was found that a student pilot could "freeze on the stick". I remember one accident report where the pilot had changed fuel tanks to a half-full tank and his motor quit. He crash-landed. He told the inspectors that he had checked the fuel selector several times and he had it on the correct tank, and that he was the victim of a faulty fuel gauge. But the inspectors selected the correct tank, and the engine started and ran just fine. He had been the victim of hysteria.

This happened to me the first time I was lost. Flying into Rockford, I had planned to pick up a leg of the Rockford radio navigation range when I was a half-hour out. But when the time came, there was no range to be found. I tried and tried without success, and when I should have been over the airport, it also was not there. I felt very distressed. I flew around for about 20 minutes trying to put myself on the map with no success. Every town I came upon had a river and a railroad. Then by grace of God, ("dumb luck" as many would say), I flew directly over the Rockford airport. I tuned in their radio range and the beam was there loud and clear. I had been a victim of hysteria. After that I made a study of being lost. I practised orienting on the radio navigation aid. Being lost became sort of a fun thing. I knew that I would find my way out so I never felt myself in distress.

I believe that the insidious presence of hysteria is quite common in everyday life. The well-being of the abiding Holy Spirit predisposes competent decisions. It gives us the ability to deal effectively with confrontations or crisis situations. A sure indication to a pilot that he/she is lost is that the compass is wrong. Although the pilot's instinct is otherwise, he must use the seemingly faulty compass heading, and then a funny thing happens: after a while the world turns around to the compass direction.

Sometimes in our church life we do not feel like going to worship, or supporting a project. Sometimes we instinctively dislike the advice of our church friends or minister, but we should know that our best interest is served by attending to good counsel and orienting ourselves to Christian living. Our church and our Christian friends do have a profound function in our continuing well-being, and all of this centres in the presence of the Holy Spirit, in whom we have learned to place our trust. It is our paradigm for successful navigating in life that we should practice continually.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank you for your providence, for your love, for being with us at all times, and for the community of your children. May we continue in the faith, in the love you have given to us, and the fellowship and love of your church. Amen.

About the author:

Harvey Freeman
Devon, Alberta, Canada

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