“Lesson From A Whiteout”
February 15, 2016
Message Summary: God wants each step of our earthly journey to be a step of faith so that our eyes are not focused on the temporal situation nearly so much as they are focused on our eternal God and the continuing work He is doing in our lives. If our physical vision is limited then we will more likely rely on our spiritual vision and see that God providentially allows these foggy periods in our life for His glory and for our eternal good. Just as the fog required the pilots to rely on their instruments rather than their sight, so our trials will cause us to focus on God, our faith and the eternal, which is where our focus should be.
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“We live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).
We had a frigidly cold weekend here in our area and throughout the Northeast, a result of a polar vortex. Saturday was the coldest with blustery winds. We were able to stay home all day although I (Stephen) had to venture out to get some coal and other miscellaneous small chores around the house. It was nice to be inside looking out on the conditions since the blowing snow was pretty. But many were out in the cold and dangerous conditions. Today it is still cold and snowing again at the time we prepare this message
Saturday evening we heard about a tragic multi-vehicle accident on I-78, a busy interstate about 30 miles north of us. Some 50 cars and trucks were involved in a pile-up with three people killed, ironically all from out of state, along with many others who were injured. All this happened in the extremely cold conditions and was attributed to a whiteout.*¹ Pennsylvania state trooper Adam Reed said investigators believe that “passing snow squalls played a role in causing the crash.”
A whiteout is a weather condition in which visibility and contrast are severely reduced by snow. The horizon disappears completely and there are no reference points at all, leaving the individual with a distorted orientation.
About 30 years ago we drove into a whiteout on a remote highway in northern Pennsylvania near a little village named Kane, which for many years has had the reputation of being the icebox of Pennsylvania. I recall it was so severe we couldn’t even see the front of our own car. I pulled over quickly and stopped till it passed. Thankfully there was little traffic on the road. It can be extremely unsettling when we’re behind the steering wheel of a car and are unable to see if we’re veering into the other lane or toward the ditch, let along wondering about other vehicles in front of us, coming toward us or up behind us!
Likewise, when uncertainty about the future surmounts, it can seem like we are in a condition similar to a whiteout or a dense cloud.
Many of us have experienced times when our vision is impaired due to a whiteout or thick fog, but all of us have experienced the thick clouds of a trial, as described by hymn writer Edward Mote who wrote, “When darkness veils His lovely face” in “The Solid Rock”.
I recall a trip about twenty years ago when I lived in New England and had a meeting in Washington DC. After the meeting I planned to return to Providence, RI but was unable to get out due to the heavy fog which led to cancellation of all flights. I stayed all night at the Washington Airport and early the next morning the fog was still so thick that you could barely see the planes pulled up next to the terminal.
But by mid-morning the fog lifted and it was a beautiful day when I finally boarded the plane to return to Providence. The pilot announced that the weather in Providence was very similar to the way it had been in Washington earlier that morning. That was reassuring, not!
Sitting next to the window, on the way to Providence, I could see the thick clouds below. As we began our descent, surrounded by these dense clouds, I could see nothing though I looked intently for the first glimpse of ground on the way down. I sensed we were getting very close to landing, yet we were still engulfed in clouds. Just as we crossed the access road around the airport, at the very end of the runway the ground finally appeared and within seconds we were on the ground. That’s always a great feeling, and it was especially so on that trip!
The pilot could see no more from the front of the plane than I could see out the side of the plane. He had to rely entirely on the instrument panel to land the plane safely. He was carefully following a glide path, which indicated his course as he lined up to the runway. Too high, too low, or off-center were all indicated by the instrumentation that he meticulously followed since he couldn’t visually line up for the landing. He was essentially flying by faith in the accuracy of these instruments and not by sight! *²
What a wonderful illustration of faith as we navigate through the clouds of life. God has provided absolutely reliable instrumentation in His Word. Truly we can say, “The Lord is faithful to all His promises” (Psalm 145:13b).
“We live by faith, not by sight”. Spiritually speaking, you may be in the midst of a whiteout or going through very thick clouds right now. To make things worse you may be experiencing unexpected turbulence. By faith recognize the integrity of God’s promises and trust Him who is forever faithful! “God keeps every promise He makes. He is like a shield for all who seek His protection” (Proverbs 30:5).
We can testify to others that we trust God, but we like to see don’t we? We like to know what’s going on, and we especially like to be in control of our circumstances. Much of the time we believe we really are. We think we have it all figured out. However we must remember the wise proverb, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). Prov. 16:1 also cautions us, “We may make our plans but God has the last word.” (TEV)
God wants each step of our earthly journey to be a step of faith so that our eyes are not focused on the temporal situation nearly so much as they are focused on our eternal God and the continuing work He is doing in our lives. If our physical vision is limited then we will more likely rely on our spiritual vision and see that God providentially allows these foggy periods in our life for His glory and for our eternal good. Just as the fog required the pilots to rely on their instruments rather than their sight, so our trials will cause us to focus on God, our faith and the eternal, which is where our focus should be.
Earlier I quoted a phrase from a hymn that expresses my heart today: “When darkness veils His lovely face”. Those who know the hymns can complete the sentence, “I rest on His unchanging grace.” Oh, for this blessed assurance to be upon each of our readers today is our prayer, especially those experiencing what seems like a whiteout!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, help us to have the kind of faith prescribed in Hebrews 11:1 where “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” It is the kind of prevailing faith that is triumphant even in the worst of circumstances because it is not determined by what we see, but rather in Whom we believe. We will not be overcome by life’s dark circumstances but we will overcome them by standing on the unflickering hope of Scripture that reassures us, “God keeps every promise He makes, He is like a shield to all who seek His protection.” Praise God! Amen.
*¹ While using the conditions that caused the accident as an illustration we also consider and pray for the many who have been impacted and those who grieve and recover from their injuries. We also express our thanks to the emergency personnel who had to deal with the accident in the frigid temperatures.
*² Calibration is one of the many under considered wonders of modern life. In the case of the plane’s instrumentation it has to be meticulously precise and fully reliable.
Yesterday afternoon after church our drive through the country provided some pretty scenery.
Please note!!! It seems that many of the videos on YouTube have a brief ad at the beginning. I have no idea how these ads are chosen but some of them are sure not what I would expect or desire! It is beyond my control.
“Living By Faith” Video Homecoming Singers This old hymn came to mind as I prepared today’s message. I don’t suppose too many these days have even heard of it.
“Till The Storm Passes By” Video Blue Rock Mennonite Youth
“In Your Arms” Video Oslo Gospel Choir
News report about the I-78 crash
“Airbus A320 pilots’ view ILS Approach CAT III LOWW-VIE in bad weather” Video Interesting view from the cockpit of an instrument landing in bad weather.
“737 ILS CAT3 Autoland – Cockpit View!” Video
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