I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. (3 John 1:4 NASB)
Growing up near Cincinnati, Ohio we were just a hop, skip and a jump from the Wright-Patterson Air Force Museum. Three boys would join forces with a father who was once in the Air Force and visit this paragon of devotion to aircraft development and history.
We were duly impressed with the massive planes parked outside on the old airfield. We would walk around the variety of planes, helicopters and other flying machines. We would touch, climb in, drool and dream of flying unhindered through the heavens. None of us ever became pilots. We’ve flown all over the world but others piloted the planes.
Recently I took a trip back to the museum. Since all my boys were working I convinced Beth to come along. She is a loving and understanding wife. She just didn’t understand what she was getting into.
We arrived to find the old air field, once covered with planes, replaced by a series of massive quonset huts. The museum was still free but now modernized with air-conditioning. Some of the rustic adventure of sweating with the oldies was replaced with fancy displays, restrooms and maps. I can be a wimp at times and love air-conditioning when it’s hot outside. It was hot that day and I was thankful for the upgrade.
Starting with the Wright Brothers we wandered through six buildings filled with winged machines. The variety, a mixture of real, test, and future planes was staggering. From the small one man planes to the massive B52 and Superfortress I was having a grand time. I took lots of photos and tried to sound like I knew something about the different models, their history and purpose.
This is a guy thing, I think. When it comes to planes, cars and all that is mechanical we feel we have to demonstrate our proficiency and knowledge on the subject. Unfortunately, I’m not very good when it comes to planes and cars.
I never was a car fanatic. Other guys will shout, “wow,” and point to some sleek looking car driving down the highway. This is usually followed by a description of the make, model and year. By the time I realize they are talking about a car it’s long gone. To maintain the bravado I nod my head and say, “wow.”
I liked planes because they were cool looking but couldn’t tell one from another without the appropriate name plate. I loved building model planes as I was growing up. They would line the shelves in my room and hang on strings from the ceiling. I had to look at the boxes to figure out which one was which.
It didn’t take long for Beth to realize I was often guessing, or down right fabricating, my extensive knowledge on aeronautics. She knew it was a guy thing and would surreptitiously walk past the placard so I could glance at the name and spout some authoritative insight on the planes form and function. I wasn’t very convincing. She wasn’t that subtle.
She made it through five buildings before she commented on being tired. I didn’t want to admit it, but, they were starting to all look alike. My feet were tired too. And, I was getting hungry. But it was a guy thing, I had to see everything! We persevered, a Godly virtue I understand, and made it to the end.
Over the years I’ve met many missionaries and pastors. It’s a pastor thing but you have to have an answer to all theological questions. It’s also a missionary thing. We have difficulty admitting we just don’t know everything about God and his world. We use human logic, peppered with good sounding verses, to justify, explain or cast aside some of the questions sent our way.
It’s like standing in front of the X3 and someone says, “cool!” You feel the urge to expound your limitless knowledge to help them rise above their lowly understanding. If you happen to know something, great. If you don’t know anything, you make it up. Or, if you don’t want to express your creative thinking you exhale heavily, shake your head and walk away like everyone should know. After a while you get pretty good at sounding like you know what you’re talking about.
Sometimes, we, as Christians, feel the pressure to perform. A believer is looking up to our spiritual wisdom, our years of experience, our great knowledge of scripture, to help them answer their question. How we perform, how we respond, how we live our life before others, tells a lot about our own walk with God.
When that “guy” thing comes into play we sometimes piece together the few verses we know to make a logical sounding answer. We play to the crowd of one. Truth may or may not have anything to do with the answer, but it sounds good, including the verses we quote!
When we’re honest, another Godly virtue, we give only the answers we know are true. We don’t try to rebuild our theology on the spot, to be a modern sage. If we don’t know the answer, we admit it and help our brother or sister to find the answer. Truth has everything to do with our response. It has everything to do with what others see in our life.
As we drove away from the museum I had to admit, to my wife, I really didn’t know much about the various planes. I think they’re cool looking. I’ve never studied their purpose or history. She smiled at me and said, “I know.” She’s a smart lady. After we reached home I looked up some stuff on the Internet. I’m still not an expert.
When we realize and admit our spiritual limitations we can openly tell others we don’t know. If that verse doesn’t come to mind, we don’t need to struggle to make it up. We can say we don’t know and then join the discovery. We help someone. We help ourselves. We grow in Christ together. Who are you helping?