AN AMAZING FACT: On November 8, 2008, Jim O’Neill, age 65, was flying alone in his Cessna at 5,500 feet over North Yorkshire, England, when he suddenly was unable to see his controls. Believing he was being blinded by the sunlight, O’Neill frantically radioed a mayday alert. Air traffic controllers did their best to guide him in to the nearest airfield, but when O’Neill was unable to see even the large runway, the controllers realized that it was not simply a matter of being dazzled by the sun.
Thankfully, a military training plane was already in the air nearby. Wing Commander Paul Gerrard, a chief flying instructor, flew within 300 feet of the stricken pilot and established radio contact. After reassuring O’Neill, Gerrard used a series of very carefully chosen words to guide him: “Turn left, a little right, reduce power, 10 percent flaps.” The Royal Air Force pilot guided the disabled aircraft down towards an R.A.F. airfield, with O’Neill feeling for and finding the various controls from memory. The Cessna landed halfway down the runway at high speed, bounced twice, and finally stopped safely at the very end of the runway.
At the hospital, doctors discovered that O’Neill had suffered a stroke that put pressure on his optic nerve, rendering him blind. After medical treatment, most of Jim O’Neill’s eyesight returned. The R.A.F. remarked that they are used to “shepherding” lost airplanes—but this was the only time they had shepherded a blind one!
Friends, it wasn’t until the air traffic controllers realized the extent of O’Neill’s blindness that they were able to help him effectively. Jesus told the Pharisees that if they recognized their blindness they could be helped, but because they claimed to see when they couldn’t, their sin remained. We must recognize that without the Word of God to guide us, we are all flying blind! When we admit our need, God is ready to help us, and He promises to help each of us land safely: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye” (Psalm 32:8).
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? John 9:40Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth. John 9:41