Planning vs. Masterminding

EVEN the smartest plans can come to nothing and even result in calamity. Mankind seems unable to find the balance between doing things simply 'because we can' and adhering to the perfect Will of God. As aviators some of us tend to fly low 'because we can'. As sportsmen and women some of us dive deep and scale mountain cliffs 'because we can'. As business people some withhold tithes, wages, bonuses, increases and commissions 'because we can'. We sometimes underpay staff and overcharge clients 'because we can'. Once we have conquered Poly Shorts and the slopes of Kilimanjaro 'because they're there' we pursue ventures to manipulate men and money markets, 'because we can'.

Somehow this all sounds right… until one considers how Angus Buchan in his daily devotional book 'A Mustard Seed' (Shalom Ministries, 2007; ISBN 978-0-620-39918-0) describes how he had avoided financial calamity on one particular occasion in a way which was humanly impossible to foresee or plan for. Before all cattle in his area would be culled due to foot and mouth disease and wholly unbeknown to him, Angus had somehow 'sensed' the Lord prompting him to sell his livestock, even the breeding herd.

People simply have this uncanny yearning of doing their own planning and then asking God to rubber-stamp their grand notions and ideas. The predicament we all seem to face is that no matter how hard we corporately try, unforeseen disasters still occur. Passengers and cabin crew members who have survived air disasters often testify of some 'premonition' or advance perception of danger. Two stewardesses whom I have respectively interviewed about different air disasters they had survived attested to the hairs on their neck inexplicably 'standing up' each fateful day before reporting for duty. They could not convert these feelings or sense of trepidation into cognitive knowledge. Why can we not be like Angus and hear from the Lord to avoid calamity? Perhaps we can... But, it takes a certain kind of yearning after the Lord which seems to escape us.

Ultimately the Lord is our only guarantee. Systemic failures in the safety system which individual functionaries form part of are often interpreted in terms of aviation safety expert Dr James Reason's 'Swiss cheese model'. According to the concept at least seven 'safety barriers' need to fail within a system, lining up like the holes in slices of Swiss cheese, for a safety measure to collapse and an accident to happen. When dealing with lives of people crews and operators need to weigh up all the facts and potential consequences before making any decision. On a flight deck or in a cockpit crews e.g. consult aircraft performance graphs to assess if an aircraft would be able to clear obstacles with a given safety margin on the take-off and climb path to assess if an aircraft will be able to safely climb on one engine at a given all-up weight, wind, gradient, temperature, etc. They then calculate how many tons of fuel can be uplifted and how many passengers can be let through the gate. In doing so their conduct and task execution conform to nothing less than Biblical principles of diligence and prudence. Fly safely!

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