Trust your instruments

A Christian Science perspective.

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When flying at night or through clouds, pilots don't have the usual visual cues. They may think they are flying straight and level, when in fact the aircraft is in a turn or descent. Occasionally, inexperienced pilots have flown into the ground or into the water because they trusted these physical messages rather than applying the flight-school mantra, "Trust your instruments."

The gauges on an aircraft's instrument panel are designed to guide pilots during conditions of low visibility. People who train to fly under such conditions learn to override the input from their physical senses and fly the aircraft according to what the instruments tell them. This can be very difficult at first, but over time it becomes second nature.

As a pilot, I've found a strong correlation between instrument flying and using spiritual intuition. For example, when our physical senses indicate that the body is sick, it is tempting to believe that information and conclude that this is fact. Yet Jesus healed people of grave, chronic illnesses by refusing to believe what the physical senses conveyed. Christian Science explains that he looked beyond them to the spiritual truth of the situation. To Jesus, illness was not the ultimate reality about an individual; wholeness was.

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Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor, wrote, "Even though you aver that the material senses are indispensable to man's existence or entity, you must change the human concept of life, and must at length know yourself spiritually and scientifically. The evidence of the existence of Spirit, Soul, is palpable only to spiritual sense, and is not apparent to the material senses, which cognize only that which is the opposite of Spirit [God]" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 359).

In a well-known Bible story, a storm arose while Jesus and his disciples were at sea. Afraid of losing their lives, the disciples woke Jesus, who was asleep in the back of the ship. And he "rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm" (Mark 4:39).

How was it that Jesus was able to sleep while others were not? To me, he trusted his instruments. Evidently, his spiritual sense told him that in God's universe all was at peace, so that he was not fooled by the physical evidence of a dangerous storm. According to Christian Science, which is based on Jesus' teaching, his clear understanding of the spiritual fact that God is a loving God, who cares for everyone, explains how he could speak to the storm with authority.

A pilot may take off on a clear, sunny day, and then encounter clouds. Those who aren't prepared for instrument flying may panic, but pilots trained on instruments will feel calm as they transition from looking outside the cockpit to inside. The information they need is right in front of them; the instruments are built into the aircraft.

Similarly, our spiritual "instruments" are built in. God is always near. Spiritual facts are always there for us, telling us that good is real, and we are each capable of responding to a situation with the spiritual sense that's built into our very being.

Just as pilots practice flying on instruments, trusting spiritual sense may take some practice. But the more we rely on it, the more our ability to counteract physical discord through the power of prayer will be strengthened. In so doing, the reality of God's goodness will become increasingly apparent in our lives.

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