You know the scene…Key West, beautiful water, islands and beaches, mangroves and fish…you know the scene. Maybe you don’t. I was taking it in from 25,000 ft on my way to the operating area…
It is really that beautiful. Still I wasn’t distracted by all the scenery because I was on an important flight. This was one of my graduation 1v1, air combat maneuvering flights as a F/A-18 pilot in the last phases of training. I was supposed to go to the Persian Gulf right after this training to join the build-up for what became Desert Storm. So, of course I wasn’t distracted by the beauty of the ocean or even the administrative details of the flight. I was already thinking about getting shot at in Iraq.
Concentration wasn’t my issue. I actually had too much of it. IT was just on the wrong thing. This wrong concentration manifested during the flight. I was right in the middle of a “fight”, straining to look over my shoulder while I was pulling 7 g’s or so. A Navy fighter can be a very physically demanding environment. It is tough to breath and stay awake while the g forces are trying to drain the blood out of your head and your whole body “weighs” 7 times what it does normally. But still I wasn’t distracted by the intensity of the situation.
Then “she” starting yelling at me. In the F/A-18 we have audible warnings and cautions and cues. Often the auditory stimulus is in the form of a “deedle deedle” followed by Betty. Betty is a lady’s voice that tells us stuff. In this case she was repeating “bingo bingo.” The bingo caution tells the pilot that the fuel level has gone below a pre-selected value. She is saying “check your gas stupid.” As I said, I wasn’t distracted by miles and miles of blue-green awesome or what radio frequency I was supposed to be on or any other administrivia, but Betty was annoying me. So instead of stopping the fight and paying attention and getting my head out of Iraq and air combat maneuvering and getting shot at and worrying about what to pack and what is the ship going to be like and…all those things “I wasn’t thinking about”…I reached down and changed my “bingo bug” which shut her up. Oops, rookie mistake. When the engagement was over, we “knocked it off” and checked our g-meter, engine instruments and FUEL. Oh no, I am in real trouble. My fuel is way below the planned fuel to get back to Key West. Now I have to “confess” my extremis to my instructor and “repent” so I can agree with my situation and stop living in denial and “obey” by listening to the instructor and “die to myself” as he takes over and gets us on an emergency fuel profile. Now all the stuff “I wasn’t thinking about” comes crashing in. I needed a “savior.” It all began with me “not listening.”
Oh yeah, this “not listening” thing isn’t new. It has always been a part of our fallen-Adam way of thinking. When we live in an irrational fear of God instead of falling into His saving embrace, we stop listening. We don’t let Him into our innermost being. We don’t let Him know us. We come to know Him as we are fully known. This life is intended as a relationship with our Father. We actually have no “life” at all outside a relationship with Him. We are living in fear and death. We are numb to Him and numb to ourselves. We live in an hypocrisy of dualism. We project one image of ourselves that we think others will like while we try to hide the person inside. We “stop listening” to God in us who is with us and loves every part of us. We stop paying attention to His voice in our lives to rescue us from our junk and love us into our true identity. We stop listening to the “bingo bingo” that says we have a low love fuel light and need a long drink from the river of living water. God is very very serious about us listening to Him. It is the heart of our relationship and has always been the heart of His relationship with mankind. Jesus said this:
Mar 8:14 Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15 And he cautioned them, saying, “ Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” 16 And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. 17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “ Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “ Twelve.” 20 “ And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “ Seven.” (ESVST)
Jesus is using a familiar phrase. Check this out:
Jer 5:21 “ Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but see not, who have ears, but hear not. 22 Do you not fear me? declares the Lord. Do you not tremble before me? I placed the sand as the boundary for the sea, a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass; though the waves toss, they cannot prevail; though they roar, they cannot pass over it. (ESVST)
Notice Jesus says “And do you not remember” where Jeremiah uses “Do you not fear me.” I love it when Jesus shows us the heart of the Father. Jesus is asking the disciples if they remember the miracle that just happened and do they understand what just happened. Jesus had fed the 4000 and the 5000. He had shown tremendous compassion for the people when the disciples wanted to send them home. He showed how the heart of the Father is to provide for His people even when we can’t see a path forward or our logic doesn’t connect the dots or we just can’t live from faith. Jeremiah is telling the Jews the same thing. He is saying like all the prophets repeated over and over again “can’t you remember what I have done for you? Can’t you at least live is awe of the one who parted the red sea and set you free from Egypt? Can’t you at least incline your head just a little to listen to my voice?”
Jer 7:23 But this command I gave them: ‘ Obey (listen) my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you. ’ 24 But they did not obey (listen) or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward. 25 From the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt to this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them, day after day. 26 Yet they did not listen to me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers. (ESVST)
They didn’t listen. The Hebrew is clear in this passage. The word translated as “obey” is to harken or listen with intent to follow. God wants us to listen.
When we live in irrational fear we miss the heart of God. We should not fear any punishment from Him. We should not be hiding in the bushes in shame. We should not be running from the one who wants to save us from our junk. We should be embracing the Love that sets us free from our hard hearts. We should lean into the one who gives us life and fans the flames of compassion for others. We need to incline our ears to the lover of the universe so we can know His love for us.
That “bingo bug” that is going off in your head may be Him telling you to “take a deep breath” and breathe in His breath of life and take a deep drink of His endless living water. His voice is trying to reveal Him to you so you will have the knowledge of Him which is our eternal life. We can search the scriptures but they don’t contain eternal life. Jesus is our way and truth and life. He shows us the father. The Holy Spirit is our “Betty” illuminating the Father-Son relationship in us. We need to listen. Don’t let anyone tell you He doesn’t or won’t talk to you today. That is anti-Jesus. He is in us, all of us, trying to get our attention. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t hear or don’t know how to hear or haven’t achieved some special spiritual status so you are not allowed to hear…nonsense!!! All the fullness of the Godhead is in Christ Jesus who is in you and is our hope of glory! That is truth. That is your bingo bug. God says “Listen to Me.” It is our privilege and our life to have a conversation with our Father in our Brother in His Spirit.