World War II was over and soldiers from the United States were going home. My friend, Art, was piloting a B-24 back across the Atlantic Ocean. Crew members and returning airmen were light-hearted with excitement.
Not long after taking off in England, the engineer noticed that the fuel gauge showed half-full; somebody must have forgotten to fill the tanks before departure. Art thought it was more likely that the gauge was faulty. Asking the engineer for frequent updates on the fuel level, they kept flying towards the Azores.
Just a bit later, they discovered a bulge on the right landing gear tire. Art knew the tire would almost certainly blow when they landed, making the plane swerve to the right. Since there was only one tire on each side of the plane, Art knew there would be trouble. But they’d face the same predicament whether he went ahead or turned back. Move ahead!
After a while, the fuel gauge showed no change indicating they had plenty of fuel on board and the problem was a faulty gauge. One piece of good news!
When they approached the Azores, Art knew the landing would be difficult. Keeping the plane’s weight on the left wheel, Art held the right tire off the runway as long as air speed would allow. The right wheel blew the instant it touched the ground. Art slammed on the left brake and the plane swerved, slowed, veered off the runway and came to a surprisingly safe stop.
Grateful to be alive and anxious to get home, the crew went to work on the plane. By the next day, the wheel was fixed, the gas gauge worked, and once again they were in the air.
Flying toward Labrador, their spirits were revived. All went well until they descended for landing and flew directly into dense fog at about 12,000 feet. Art asked the navigator how tall the mountains were around the base where they had to land. “The map shows them to be around 2,000 feet,” he reported.
With zero visibility, fog often caused collisions. Not wanting to spend any extra time in the clouds, Art brought the plane down rapidly. They came out of the cloud layer at 3,000 feet, to see 4,000-foot mountains out their windows! Just ahead was the valley and the airbase. Somehow, with no visibility, they had flown between those looming peaks and not into them!
Later it was discovered that the navigator’s information was about a different airbase. Nothing but divine protection sheltered them as they flew blindly through that fog.
I always learn lessons about life from my visits with Art.
First, I realized that in health, just like aviation, there are gauges and tests that help us navigate. Blood pressure, mammograms, and blood glucose are just a few. If we have abnormal results, we need to do what we can to address the issues. Like the fuel gage, even medical tests can sometimes give a faulty picture of what’s actually happening. If there is a good reason to question the accuracy of a test result or diagnosis, don’t hesitate to have it double checked. This may mean repeating the test under different circumstances or confirming the results with an alternative test. It is important to act appropriately once the right results are determined.
Second, like with the bulging tire, sometimes health disasters are just ahead of you. Carefully plan each step you will need to take when the event occurs. However, there is no use stopping the flight! Don’t let fear debilitate your quality of life. You’ll have to face the problem wherever you land, so live your life fully each day.
The third threat to Art’s trip was a total surprise to everyone. No one could have prevented the fog from clouding their view. Some might attribute their safe landing to good luck. But Art and I both believe in the watchcare of an all-loving Father who miraculously saved the lives of the soldiers on that plane.
God really cares about your health. He’ll do amazing things when you cooperate with His healthy lifestyle plan. But when there is evidence that trouble lies ahead, don’t give up and abandon the mission! Get the help you need to prepare the best plan possible for facing the crisis when it arrives. Then determine to fully live each day.
When unforeseen dangers arise, God is able to guide you through your mountains and fog. He loves to have you recognize His personal intervention. He treasures your honest thanks and worship. Praise the God who provides you with both the brains and the faith to trust Him all the way home.