On April 28, 1988, flight 243 of Aloha Airlines from Hilo to Honolulu would become one of the most famous accidents in the history of aviation. At approximately 7300 meters of altitude, the flight was proceeding as normal when, suddenly, part of the plane’s structure in the first class section was wrenched off, leaving a hole nearly 6 meters long on its fuselage (pictured) and dozens of passengers exposed to the open air. Despite these conditions the pilot managed to land the aircraft at a nearby airport with only one victim, a flight attendant who was launched out of the plane.
Investigations revealed the accident had been caused by mechanical fatigue, a process that causes a structure to fracture through relatively small but repetitive forces. These forces, oscillating on the structure, cause small cracks to propagate. These cracks increase and eventually accumulate to cause great damage. In the case of the Aloha flight, the constant landing and takeoff operations of the short flights from and to the Hawaiian Islands increased tensions on the structure of an already old aircraft. In addition, the lack of proper maintenance and corrosion caused by the marine environment were factors that contributed to the accident.
After this event more stringent maintenance and inspection rules were established and research on this phenomenon continued, mainly in the aeronautical field. Similarly, in our spiritual life we need to be constantly examining ourselves (1 Corinthians 11:28) and repairing failures, taking great care of little things that can grow and cause great problems.
We were created to receive God, serve Him and glorify Him. However, because of man’s fall, we encounter adverse conditions that hinder the fulfillment of that purpose: we have the world and sin around us. These adverse operational conditions require inspection and constant maintenance.
The Mode of Operation
The life of God in us is the life that overcomes the world; it is the life that can serve the Father. But it must be maintained, it must always shine, even if environmental factors try to extinguish it. Individual fellowship with the Lord is extremely important for us to “operate” properly, as is our collective fellowship which is the church life. We are designed to operate in this way and only then will we reach the destiny: Christ Himself. However, it is necessary to be careful with factors that can slowly damage our spiritual life.
Questions are hammering in the minds of many Christians. Some have doubts about questions of interpretation of the Word, others about more behavioral and practical issues. It is normal to have doubts, we are in constant learning and, for some of life’s questions we will only have an answer on that Day. I think that in order to deal with doubts we need: faith, patience and sincerity.
- Faith: believing and trusting in God even with doubts. Faith waits against hope (Romans 4:18). To have our faith strengthened, it is necessary to read the Word (10:17).
- Patience: Not all things have immediate answers. Especially because we ourselves often need to be prepared to understand certain things and this can take time.
- Sincerity: It is amazing how doubts linger, and yet we are still timid in revealing our concerns to God and to our own brothers. We need to be open with God and with our spiritual companions, sharing what we are going through, seeking experienced brothers who can help us. Sometimes doubt can be something very simple to solve that does not need to endure for long.
Unfortunately, there are many people who even fail to congregate because of resentment with a brother. It is the strategy of the Evil One to cause discord among brothers to disrupt the work of God. Whatever the problem or disagreement, failing to meet together is inadequate considering how we came to the Church. A very high price was paid for us to become part of God’s family; He Himself placed us in the church life. We are not there because of people. God’s order was to not forsake the assembling together (Hebrews 10:25).
Looking at Him causes us to stop looking at the problems of others, and gives us patience and love, a love that does not take account of evil (1 Corinthians 13:5). We cannot stop living in this love. If there is a difficult problem to deal with, seek other brothers for fellowship, mature brothers.
“Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; (Hebrews 12:15)”
Loving the world
The influence of world standards, the system that hates the Lord Jesus (John 15:18), and that which is around us can little by little erode our spiritual life. We must constantly watch and be vigilant so that distractions do not steal the Lord’s time in our lives, and so that vices and ideas incompatible with the Word do not influence us by gradually wearing us out. We will be protected if we have a firm foundation in the Word and strong fellowship with the Lord. Our attitude toward this system must be inflexible (James 4: 4); it can not be emotional.
It is also important to follow the safety protocols for the flight. Our life cannot be “operated” in an insecure way. We need to know our limits and we can know these by means of the Word and of prayer. We know our limits not to live at these limits, but at a safe distance from them. The structures of an aircraft, for example, are constructed in such a way as to withstand higher stresses than those expected to be encountered, which is considered to be “a safety net”.
We have perfect peace if we live by purpose (Isaiah 26: 3) and not by feelings. To reach our destination safely, we need to know ourselves and have self-control (1 Corinthians 9:25-27). It is by knowing God that we have self-control, which is the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23). The operation of an aircraft is a matter of great responsibility. The way we lead our lives is too, isn’t it?
Written in collaboration with Marina Nascimento.
Author: Gustavo Corrêa
Translation of the article “Trincas Espirituais – Como algo pequeno pode causar um grande desastre (Blog “Eu Vos Escrevi”)