October 23, 2017

Where Do You Place Your Trust?

Ken Endean

FrontLine • November/December 2006

Not in Arrogant Posturing

Frank Koch relates an incident that occurred while he was serving on a U.S. Navy battleship involved in training maneuvers. For several days bad weather had encircled the squadron. Fog hampered visibility and caused the captain to remain on deck to watch the activities. Shortly after dark a light was spotted off the starboard bow. To avoid collision the captain sent the signal, “We are on a collision course, advise you change course 20 degrees.”

Back came the reply, “Advisable for you to change course 20 degrees.”

The captain sent another message, “I’m a captain, change course 20 degrees.”

The reply came back, “I’m a seaman second class, you had better change course 20 degrees.”

Now the captain was furious and commanded another message be sent: “I’m a battleship. Change course 20 degrees.”

Back came the response. “I’m a lighthouse.”

The battleship changed course.[1]

Do we stubbornly assume our course is correct and others must change? Or do we humbly seek God’s evaluation and guidance? “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139:23, 24).

Not in Individual Intuition

During World War II, at 3:10 p.m. on April 4th, 1943, a nine-man crew aboard an American B-24 bomber, the Lady Be Good, took off from an air base in North Africa for a bombing raid over Naples, Italy. After flying over the site, the plane turned and headed for home. A brief distress call was heard around midnight, but the plane never arrived, resulting in one of the most baffling investigations in Air Force history. Although the plane contained enough fuel for a twelve-hour flight and the mission required only nine hours, for years it was thought the plane had run out of fuel and crashed into the Mediterranean Sea. However the plane had plenty of fuel — enough to overfly the airbase by almost 450 miles and crash land in the Libyan Desert region of the Sahara. Here it was found almost sixteen years later, in good condition, by a British oil exploration team. When discovered, the instruments were tested and found to be in working order. So what happened? Apparently at the altitude the plane was flying, on that fateful night in April of 1943, an unusually strong tailwind caused the plane to reach its destination ahead of schedule. When the flight instruments acted strangely, indicating they had passed their base, the crew thought the instruments were damaged, malfunctioning, or being jammed by the enemy. They lost faith in their guidance system and continued on, and thinking they were still over the Mediterranean they flew into the desert.

People must have a standard apart from themselves and must have faith in that standard. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:5, 6).

Although the Lady Be Good was found in 1959, it took another year to find the bodies of the crew. They had parachuted from the plane shortly before it went down in the desert. While desert survival experts stated that the crew could have traveled twenty-five-to-thirty miles, or at the most not more than fifty miles in the 130-degree heat, the bodies of five of the men were found nearly eighty miles from where a parachute harness was recovered. On the body of Lieutenant Robert Toner was found a diary recounting the courageous effort to survive. Eight of the nine crew men survived the parachute jump, and, assuming they had slightly over-flown their base, began heading northwest. With only half a canteen of water for the eight men, they pressed on for eight days. When five men could go no farther, three continued on. One man went another twenty-six miles, another man traveled a total of 114 miles, and the body of the last crewman was never found. If the crew had had a map of the Libyan Desert, they would have found an oasis to their south at a distance slightly more than what they traveled. If they had traveled south instead of north, they could have come across their plane, where water was stored.[2]

In light of man’s limitations, he must rely on the Lord. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:12).

Not in Uncertain Riches

The snowfall ended early in the afternoon on February 5, 2006, leaving an eight-inch deposit north of Detroit. Millions of football fans were waiting for Super Bowl XL to begin. About 1200 miles to the south and east, a 124-foot super yacht, the Princess GiGi, moved along the edge of the Bahamas as the crew watched the game on satellite TV. The low pressure system that had dropped snow on Detroit was now causing the winds to pick up and the waves to swell with heavy, intense squalls appearing on the local satellite imagery.

But the crew was unconcerned. The Princess GiGi had proven seaworthy, having been to New England and even Alaska. The exquisite ship was adorned with marble floors, glossy Australian silkwood cabinets, a hand carved jade and mother-of-pearl inlaid foyer bulkhead, and the beds were covered with silk bedspreads.

At some time on the evening of February 5, as the seas picked up, a failure with the fuel transfer pump caused the two 1800-hp engines to fail. Dead in the water, waves broke over the vessel, and tons of water sloshed inside, making the vessel dangerously unstable. Shortly before midnight, the captain radioed a mayday. The Coast Guard Air Station in Clearwater, Florida, dispatched a C-130 airplane while a helicopter from a base in the Bahamas began heading for the ship’s position. At about 4:30 in the morning of February 6, the decision was made to abandon ship before the rescue helicopter, now low on fuel, had to return to base.

Our culture assumes that “bad things just aren’t supposed to happen to beautiful people — or their yachts.” The major lesson of the disaster of the Princess GiGi is not nautical or mechanical but rather one of attitude. “GiGi reminds us that the unforgiving seas care nothing for our social calendars, grand aesthetics or financial worth.”[3]

The Bible calls a man who trusted in his wealth and ability a fool and warns us against being one who “layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:20, 21).

Not in False Perceptions

At times we tend to trust our impressions without knowing all the details. This is illustrated by a joke that has circulated on the Internet for a number of years. Someone even sent it to “Dear Abby” in November 2003, claiming that a friend had witnessed the occurrence. The fictitious story illustrates the danger of drawing conclusions merely on our perceptions.

A man was flying from Seattle to San Francisco when the plane made an unexpected stop in Sacramento along the way. The flight attendant explained that there would be a delay, and if the passengers wanted to get off the aircraft, the plane would reboard momentarily.

Everybody got off the plane except one blind gentleman traveling with his Seeing Eye dog that lay quietly underneath the seats in front of him.

The pilot approached the blind gentleman, and calling him by name, said, “Bill, we’re in Sacramento for almost an hour. Would you like to get off and stretch your legs?”

The blind man replied, “No thanks, but maybe my dog would like to stretch his legs.”

The people in the gate area came to a complete standstill when they looked up and saw the pilot, wearing sunglasses, walk off the plane with a Seeing Eye dog![4]

Remember … things aren’t always as they appear.

In a Trustworthy Guide

In early summer of 1928 the ocean liner Tuscania docked in New York City. On board was a young man named Morris Frank, who was returning from Switzerland where he had gotten a beautiful female German shepherd named Buddy. Buddy was a special dog. She was the first Seeing Eye dog to come to North America. Morris Frank was blind, and he was on a mission to open a training school for guide dogs.

When Morris and Buddy arrived in New York, reporters were waiting hoping to find a story. A ship’s officer directed them to Morris, a blind man with a dog who took him all around the ship. One of the reporters asked Morris if his dog could take him anywhere, and Morris assured him she could. “How about across West Street?” the reporter asked.

In 1928, West Street was better known to thousands of New Yorkers as “Death Street.” Huge trucks, teams of draft horses pulling wagons, taxicabs, and chauffeured cars all battled for position.

While Morris Frank desired to publicize his Seeing Eye school, to step into West Street under the gaze of reporters could jeopardize his ambition. If he were injured or killed the world would know about it. But he accepted the challenge. Morris Frank tells what happened.

We entered a street so noisy it was almost like entering a wall of sound. She went about four paces and halted. A deafening roar and a rush of hot air told me a tremendous truck was swooshing past so near that Buddy could have lifted her nose and touched it. She moved forward again into the earsplitting clangor, stopped, backed up, and started again. I lost all sense of direction and surrendered myself entirely to the dog. I shall never forget the next three minutes. Ten-ton trucks rocketing past, cabs blowing their horns in our ears, drivers shouting at us. … When we finally got to the other side and I realized what a really magnificent job she had done, I leaned over and gave Buddy a great big hug and told her what a good, good girl she was.

At that moment a photographer beside Morris exclaimed, “She sure is a good girl; I had to come over in a cab, and some of the fellows who tried to cross with you are still back on the other side!” Morris Frank was anything but passive as he crossed Death Street. He was keenly aware of the directions of his guide. Though Morris was blind, his faith in Buddy was not. How trustworthy is the object of your faith?[5] Morris Frank went on to establish the Seeing Eye guide school in Morristown, New Jersey. The name for the school comes from Proverbs 20:12 — “The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the Lord hath made even both of them.” Look to the Lord.


Ken Endean is the president of International Baptist College and Seminary in Chandler, AZ.

(Originally published in FrontLine • November/December 2006. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)

  1. Reported in Proceedings, the Naval Institute magazine, retold by Stephen Covey in The Habits of Highly Effective People (New York: Free Press, 1989), 33. []
  2. Details drawn from the Classic Moody Science video, Signposts Aloft, and several websites detailing the story. []
  3. Yachting, September 2006, 90–93. []
  4. http://www.snopes.com/humor/jokes/pilotdog.htm#refs []
  5. Morris Frank and Blake Clark, The First Lady of Seeing Eye (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1957), 39–40, quoted in Christian Overman, Assumptions That Affect Our Lives (Chatsworth, CA: Micah 6:8, 1996), 78–79. See also http://www. seeingeye.org. []


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