“Jesus Take the Wheel!”

Clifton Fox, Church of Christ

August 10, 1994, flight 2033 from Seoul, South Korea, was prepared to land at the resort island of Cheju. The jet, carrying 152 passengers, was 30 feet off the ground, moving way too fast, and was now several hundred yards past the runway landing markers. A tropical storm had generated dangerous wind shears and poor visibility. However, the most dangerous part of this disaster occurred inside the cockpit.

As they descended to land, the co-pilot, Chung Chan-kyu, repeatedly asked Captain Barry Woods to abort the landing and to "go around." He was convinced there was no longer enough runway left to land the jet. When Woods refused to do so, Chan-kyu grabbed the throttles to take control. The two scuffled as the plane pounded down onto the runway. Transcripts from the flight recorder revealed that the Captain shouted, "No! What are you doing?! Don't man! You're gonna kill us!"

At that point, the plane crashed through runway barriers and slammed into a safety barricade. The crew and a few passengers escaped through a door, moments before the plane burst into flames. The investigation revealed the conflict between the Captain and co-pilot caused the crash…not the tropical storm. It wasn’t the clash of wind shears that caused the disaster. It was a clash of wills.

The million-dollar question behind the story is: "Who was in-charge of the plane?!" Only one of the pilots had the right to land the craft, but neither would relinquish his power. "Who's going to be first?" "Who's going to land the plane?" That sounds a lot like the apostles in Luke 9. They fussed over the same fundamental issue. “Who is in control here?” When Jesus announced that He would be betrayed and killed (Luke 9:44), the twelve began a verbal "tussle" over who would take charge when he was gone. The text says, "Then a heated debate arose among them as to who should be greatest" (Luke 9:46).

It seems bizarre to me; but, the men Jesus chose to establish His Church, and to lead it, often argued over power and control (Matt. 20:20-28; Mk. 9:34; Lk. 22:24). A similar struggle for power is what also caused the religious disaster known as denominational Christianity (1st Cor. 1:10-12). Folks wanted power. Even today, many church leaders just want to be first. In a manner of speaking, they want to "grab the throttles" and control the plane themselves. I once read: “People are fickle…they want the front of the bus, the back of the church, and the center of attention.”

My friend, who is flying the plane that you call your “life?” Have you surrendered the controls to Jesus? Is He your Lord and Savior (Acts 2:36-38)? Or have you wrestled the controls out of His hands, seeking to direct your own destiny? If so, a horrible crash is coming. As the country song writer wrote a few years ago: It is time to cry out “Jesus Take the Wheel!” 

Groesbeck Journal

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