“How Well Can You Fly It When Everything Goes Wrong?” New Era, June 1978, 4
I have been flying many kinds of aircraft for the last 30 years, both in the United States and in Latin American countries. Not too long ago when I had returned to the States after an absence of some years, a very dear friend offered me the use of his new, twin-engine Cessna. It just happened to be one of my favorite aircraft. It not only had the special, powerful engines with turbo-superchargers that could take it up to very high altitudes, but it had all the radios, all the electronic navigational aids, the transponder, the distance-measuring equipment, full instruments for all-weather flight, oxygen, and so on, just like the commercial airliners. I couldn’t think of a more enjoyable plane to fly, but with so much equipment (this was a very expensive, sophisticated bird), I reluctantly passed up the chance, saying, “Someday we’ll go to Mexico together.”
A few months passed, and every time I saw my friend he offered his plane again, but I never felt I should accept, even though the offer was very sincere. Then one day my friend brought to my office a set of keys and a pilot’s manual as evidence that he really would be pleased if I would use his beautiful aircraft sometime. The keys in my hand generated an overwhelming desire to go down to Mexico to my favorite spot for deep-sea fishing. Unfortunately Jack couldn’t go the days I had free but assured me that I should go alone. We discussed my qualifications of being covered under his insurance policy, and it turned out that I needed a check ride with a qualified inspector as it had been some time since I had flown that particular type of plane.
The arrangements were made, and I met the inspector at the side of the airplane at the appointed hour with my licenses from the USA, Argentina, Paraguay, and Ecuador, and logbooks showing flights in Cessna 310s across jungles, mountains, deserts, international boundaries, etc. He smiled calmly but was unimpressed and said, “I’ve heard about you, and I have no doubt about how much flying you have done, but I have to assume that those flights were when nothing went wrong. Now let’s fire up this bird and see how well you fly it when everything goes wrong!”
For the next hour he made everything go wrong! He simulated every emergency he could think of. He turned things off that should have been on. He turned things on that should have been off. He tried to create disorientation or panic. He really wanted to know how well I could fly when everything did go wrong! In the end he climbed out, signed my logbook, and announced, “You’re okay. I’d let my wife and kids fly with you.” I took that as being a great compliment.
One of the purposes of this life is to be tested, tried, and proven to see how well we will serve the Lord. The Prophet Joseph said that we would be tested to see if we would serve and remain faithful through all hazards. We knew before we came that there would be many adverse circumstances to test us: accidents, sickness, and disease to prove us; temptations and distractions to try us; disappointments, discouragements, reverses, failures, and all kinds of situations to determine our character.
Sometimes we go many years with no problems, and then they seem to come all at once, and the burdens seem to be more than we can bear. But through it all, we have two main strengths to rely on: (1) We knew before we came that it would be like this, yet we wanted to come because the blessings of remaining faithful to the end would earn us eternal exaltation. (2) We will never be tempted beyond our ability to resist.
Not only are emergencies, accidents, sicknesses, diseases, discouragements, disappointments, reverses, failures, and temptations the tests for which we prepare, but there are also things that we might not consider in the normal line of a test. One of these is prosperity. Sometimes prosperity makes it harder to remain spiritual. Sometimes the luxury of a fishing boat makes us break the Sabbath. Sometimes a condominium at a resort keeps us from holding positions or filling positions properly in our home ward. Prosperity is a test. Can we handle wealth and remain spiritual?
Can we use our talent wisely? Can we stay spiritual when our talent leads us into careers where we perform in public, in night clubs, in the theater, or on the concert stage, where it is difficult to lead a normal LDS life? Yet the talent should be developed and used. The question is, “Are we strong enough to be in the entertaining or artistic world without being corrupted by it?”
Sometimes the normal differences of opinion, or differences of culture, or differences of priorities between husband and wife allow Satan to tempt them with a question: “Are you happy? Wouldn’t you be happier with someone else? Isn’t happiness the most important thing in life?” These questions come from Satan, the father of all lies. We must make up our minds to pass this test, above all others, of staying faithful to our eternal companion even when there is a temporary interruption of “happiness.”
Many normal parents with normal children fail the spiritual tests of being tried and proven in all circumstances because they lose sight of the goal of being exalted together. Instead, they allow normal, teenage independence on the one hand, versus excessive parental discipline on the other, to cause the child or the parent or both to fail the test.
The question still is: How well can you fly it when everything goes wrong? How well can you live when every test, every trial, every proof of your faithfulness is exacted of you?