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Flying the hump

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Each day as I peruse the obituaries in our statewide newspaper, I am struck by the number of deaths of World War II veterans. These men are now in their eighties and nineties, so it is not unusual that they are reaching the end of their lives, but what is remarkable is how many lives were touched in that awful conflict. It was the “greatest generation,” as referred to by author and commentator Tom Brokaw in his book by that title. Each of these veterans has stories to tell of their experiences and of the impact the war had on their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

I recently visited with a United States Air Force Colonel, now retired. In his early twenties during the war he flew supplies over the Himalayas from India to China, in a run that was called “flying the hump.” During our conversation, his granddaughter asked, “How many missions did you fly over those mountains?” He responded that he had made 44 trips. As he spoke of his experiences, he commented that he was one of the “lucky ones,” since many of his fellow pilots crashed and did not make it back. Flying those big planes, hastily built during the tremendous war effort, through terribly cold weather at very high altitudes with rudimentary radar and instruments was extremely dangerous. The Colonel said that the high winds would often affect the flight path of the air craft. The procedure was to fly toward a radio signal at their landing field destination, and as long as that was done the pilot would not get off course, even though the direction of flight might be affected by the high winds.

Under those adverse conditions, many of the pilots became disoriented. Some failed to trust their instruments, and flew their planes according to their senses, resulting in their deaths. He said somberly, “To survive, it was imperative to ignore your feelings and to follow your instruments.” As I thought about the experiences of this man, now 93 years of age, it seemed that his account as a young pilot illustrated life lessons made plain in the Bible. For example, Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Obviously, knowing where you are going and following instructions is essential for success.

This instruction is not new; it has been a part of God’s plan from the beginning. For example, Moses, under inspiration, gave this instruction to the ancient Israelites, “But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29).This is particularly important when one is being swept off course by the troubled winds that blow at times in everyone’s life. Having the right transcendent goal and the instruction on how to reach it is imperative for spiritual survival.

Psalm 119 is a beautiful acrostic poem that extolls the instruction to seek God and to obey His law. It is worthy of study and contemplation in good times and in times of trial. Like the pilots of WWII, we can avoid the disaster of being blown off course and losing our way, if we trust our instructions and follow the admonition “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding...” (Proverbs 3:5).

If you want to know more about maintaining a course that will get you safely “over the hump” to a wonderful Way of life now, and to the ultimate destination sought by all true Christians, the materials found on this website will be invaluable to you. Our free booklet, What Is a True Christian? will give you new insights on this vital subject. Our Tomorrow’s World Bible Study Course, which is also free, is a wonderful tool to help you understand the truths of the Bible. Use these materials to check your course today!