The Gimli Glider and God’s Word

Something didn’t happen between Montreal and Edmonton, Canada on July 23, 1983; and that it didn’t happen is truly amazing. Air Canada Flight 143 didn’t crash that day. The Boeing 767 ran out of fuel midway between the two cities at 41,000 feet. The aircraft’s Fuel Quantity Indication System (apparently a sophisticated aviation term for fuel gauge) failed. This meant measuring the fuel level with a drip stick. The crew needed to enter the fuel quantity into the flight computer in kilograms, but they mistakenly did the calculation with the density of jet fuel in pounds. The result: empty fuel tanks mid-flight.

The crew was able to make a miraculous glided landing onto an abandoned military airstrip at the closed Gimli Air Base, (and avoid the teenagers drag racing there). While God almost certainly played a hand in the safe landing, that’s not what this post is about. God’s Word is our guidebook for living. It was only in the last year that I heard someone say for the first time that Bible stands for: Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth. It is basic. Yet, like the crew of Flight 143, we can make our journey much more difficult than it needs to be when we don’t clearly understand what God’s word says. The Apostle Paul instructed his protégé, Timothy:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV).

I once heard it said that more people read about the Bible than actually read the Bible. I don’t know if that’s true. But I’ve had people tell me astonishing things that they were sure were in the Bible. Most confessed they seldom or never read God’s Word.

I will confess that when I first came to Christ five years ago, setting aside time to get into God’s Word seemed like a chore. But as I tell new believers, the more Jesus you get, the more Jesus you want. And it’s perfectly fine to use devotionals and commentaries as tools to assist you in understanding God’s Word. In fact, I strongly recommend the book: “Reading the Bible for All It’s Worth.” Scholarly writing can help you navigate God’s meaning. But experiencing His Word firsthand is critical to spiritual growth.

Begin by asking the Holy Spirit in prayer to guide you and teach you when you read. That’s when God’s Word comes alive to you! No matter how many times you’ve read a passage, you’re bound to have something new revealed to you when you fully prepare yourself. Here’s a challenge: read the parable of the Lost Son every day this week, praying to the Spirit for discernment before each reading. My guess is you will be shocked at what is revealed to you each time.

The crew of flight 143 was sure it knew how much fuel it had. But their interpretation of the information they received was faulty. God’s Word is perfect. Don’t deprive yourself of the joy of immersing yourself in it. Get fully prepared and let the adventure begin!

This post is republished with permission from Oakbrook Church, De Pere WI.

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