One thing leads
Investigators of accidents such as airline crashes or nuclear reactor mishaps will tell you that it is very rarely some big catastrophic event that causes the accident. It is almost always a series of small missteps that brings about eventual disaster. In an overwhelming number of airline accidents the plane was running late so the pilot was trying to make up time. Other factors include not enough rest or not enough time flying together as a crew. The typical accident involves seven consecutive human errors. No one of those errors is enough to bring about disaster, but combined, they almost always are.
In our pursuit of the truth we move to the brink of disaster when we fail to see how one thing can lead to another. We allow one area to slip, which probably isn’t that significant by itself, but it leads to other errant steps and faulty conclusions.
Mitigated speech refers to any attempt to downplay or sugarcoat what is being said. For example, in a crash that occurred near New York City in 1990, a plane from Columbia simply ran out of fuel because of being in a holding pattern too long. However, right up to the last minute, air traffic controllers said the pilot spoke in a very nonchalant way.
The book of Second Chronicles, chapter 24, describes King Joash of Judah as a man that did not mitigate his speech. He gave specific instructions for what he wanted done, but the priests didn’t do what they were told, causing an important building project to be delayed. Joash was only following through on previous instructions (Exodus 30:12-14). Remember, the typical accident involves seven consecutive errors. If we are being challenged in our pursuit of the truth or if things do not seem to be working out, we need to locate where things broke down. We can know that the current situation is undoubtedly connected to a series of mishaps, missteps or mistakes that went uncorrected.
Most airline accidents occur when the pilot, rather than the first officer, is flying the plane. The reason for that is because the co-pilot will only make suggestions to the pilot, even though the situation might warrant a more direct warning. When the co-pilot is flying, the pilot is still in command and is much more apt to give unmitigated instructions.
Long before we ever hit any type of storm system, whether it is marital, occupational, physical, spiritual or intellectual, some sort of warning has most likely been given. The issue is whether we are willing to take note of the warning signs. We must never disregard the warnings of expertise or experience.
One of the really interesting things about plane crashes is how culture contributes to them. Much of how a crisis is handled depends on how a person relates to authority and deals with subtleties. In western cultures it is assumed that if there is a miscommunication, it is the speaker’s fault. In Asian cultures a miscommunication is the receiver’s fault. Through the Bible, God has made His instructions clear enough and they always indicate that all things are connected and that one thing leads. Problems, heartaches, confused minds are not isolated; they are all connected, usually in a series of events that have brought us to our current position.
The good news is that one thing leading works both ways. It means that we can turn things around with a simple move in the right direction. One thing; one decision leads. We will take a step today, no matter what. The only question is in what direction? The pursuit of truth doesn’t happen by accident. It is one step taken, found to be true and then followed by another. That is a wonderful aspect of grace. One step honestly taken leads to another and step by step we can come to a practical, workable solution to any problem.
Dr. M. Hildon Guy is the President of the University of Christian Studies and Seminary in Eagle River, Alaska and serves as a Board Member with Love INC of Eagle River.