The world was taken back last month when a plane crashed into the French Alps killing all 150 aboard. While all plane crashes of this magnitude make front-page news, this one was even more chilling as it appears the co-pilot intentionally took the plane down in a suicide / mass murder.
When I fly I assume the pilots will do all they can to get me to my destination. I assume they are all of sound mind and body. I assume that all pilots are like my hometown's own local hero Captain “Sully” Sullenberger who six years earlier employed all his flying skills to save his passengers. I don’t often give much thought to who is in the cockpit, but I guess it does matter.
As strange as it may seem, in the aftermath of this disaster a popular bumper sticker from my youth came to mind – God is my co-pilot. Of course, pilot or co-pilot is never used in the Bible as a metaphor for God, but I guess it serves as a modern day equivalent of The Lord is my Shepherd. It suggests a confidence that Christians have in God that He will lead them safely to their destination.
I suppose that most of the people who read this blog have already to some degree handed over the controls to God, and you’re welcome to read on, but what I have to say next is more relevant to those who have not. Yet, I suppose I am calling all of us to give some thought to where our lives are going and who is in the cockpit, because it really does matter.
The 17th century mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal offered a defense of Christianity in what has come to be known as Pascal’s Wager. Essentially Pascal posits that all human beings place a bet that God either exists or doesn’t exist. If you bet on His existence and you’re wrong, you really haven’t lost anything. But, if He does exist you stand to gain everything. If you wager that He doesn’t exist and you’re right, you gain nothing in view that there is nothing beyond this world. Yet, if He does exist, you stand to lose everything. In a sense, the wager boils down to these two things: is there any destination to life and, if so, who is in your cockpit.
We’re all on a flight we call life. Some believe it is a flight to nowhere. The flight itself is all we have and there is no destination. Enjoy your peanuts and complimentary beverage, because that’s all there is. No need for a pilot because there is no destination. That is a philosophy of life. A sad one in my estimation, but nonetheless one that many have chosen.
On the other hand, there are many more who believe that this life is journey to a greater and longer-lasting destination. In fact, every human culture has had some sense of a destination, an after-life. Yet so many people give no thought to who is in the cockpit. We live with a sense of destination but act like there is none. We are lulled into a quiet confidence that all life philosophies, like all pilots, can be trusted. But perhaps they can’t. At the very least, shouldn’t we all check who is in the cockpit before we entrust our lives to them?
The voice recorders from that Germanwings flight brought to light the harrowing cries of the pilot as it became more obvious that the plane was going down. He was heard pounding on the locked cockpit door pleading, “Open the d—n door!” I couldn’t help but recall the eerily similar words of Jesus – “I stand at the door and knock.”
I guess it matters who is in the cockpit. It really does. Our very lives depend on it.