Testing the Message

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)

The Lady-Be-Good bomber plane droned heavily through the dark sky. The crew didn't know that this night had a harsh surprise in store. It was April 4, 1943 and the Lady-Be-Good was traveling over the Mediterranean Sea. That afternoon, around 3:00 pm, the bomber and its crew had been dispatched from the air force base at Benghazi in North Africa on a mission to attack the city of Naples. Because of poor visibility the bomber didn’t drop its ammunition on its target, but instead dumped the bombs into the sea to reduce weight and conserve fuel and turned back towards home base. But as night came and darkness fell over the Mediterranean, the plane’s crew faced a perplexing situation. At about midnight, the pilot of the Lady-Be-Good called the base by radio and said that his automatic direction finder wasn’t working and that he needed the direction to the base. A bearing was sent to the Lady-Be-Good, but they never knew whether the crew had received the signal or not. The pilot’s question over the radio was the Lady-Be-Good’s last contact with the outside world before the plane and all her crew mysteriously vanished.

           In 1958, a British oil exploration team discovered the wreckage of the lady-be-good in the Libyan desert in north Africa and two years later a petroleum team found the bodies of the crew who had parachuted out of the plane before it crashed. It was a surprise to find that the plane had overflown its intended landing spot by such a large distance because the plane had begun its journey home with a low supply of fuel. How did its crew members miss their home base and how did the plane end up over four hundred miles past its destination? When the recovery team extracted the direction-finding instruments from the plane, they tested them and found all of them to be in correct working order, so the accident couldn’t be blamed on the instruments. Instead, it was a matter of the airmen not trusting their instruments.

         There was much speculation about how this tragedy could have happened, but one particular theory that was proposed was that a strong tail wind had actually blown the bomber to its destination much sooner than it would have arrived there under ordinary circumstances. When the instruments began telling the crew that they had passed their destination, the pilot and the navigator faced a life-and-death dilemma. Common sense told them that they weren’t supposed to reach the base for several more hours. What should they choose to believe, their intuition or their instruments? Their discernment was compromised because they were following their own judgment instead of their tried-and-true instruments. The consequences were disastrous.

           Friends, we don’t have to blunder into a spiritually dangerous situation. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:20) Scripture provides trustworthy guidance for us as we meet the world’s temptations and sidetracks. Let’s keep God’s Word front and center as we face the many unknowns of the future. With God as our Guide, we don’t have to be afraid.