What tracer bullets, an F-111, and our lives as Christians have in common…

As you probably already know, my dad is a retired Air Force pilot. He flew missions in several different wars. One of those was Desert Storm, and the plane he was flying was an F-111. Based on common sense, all the missions were flown at night. During the beginning of the war, as they would fly over the targets, the enemy would be shooting artillery guns at the airplanes to try and shoot them down. Every several bullets or so, the enemy inserted something they called a tracer bullet (a bullet that lit up) so that they could see where they were firing.

On the first few nights of Desert Storm, my dad flew, and he could see the tracer bullets going everywhere as he flew over the targets and artillery shooting at him and the other pilots. After a while, the tracer bullets stopped illuminating the sky as the pilots flew. When they got back to base, they were all exuberant! It appeared as if all the artillery on the ground had been abandoned.

Soon, some startling news shook them- the people on the ground hadn’t stopped shooting at them. Rather, they had just taken the tracer bullets out of their guns! The pilots had thought that everything was ok, when in fact, the danger was lurking more seriously than ever because they had no idea of the pressing danger. They let their guard down.

On Sunday, my dad preached on 1 John 4-10, and throughout 1 John, John uses the analogy of light and dark. Dad used this analogy of the tracer bullets as an example of our lives, and how we as believers so often make ourselves vulnerable because we don’t know the danger, the sin that is inside us. We think that we must not have any blind spots because we can’t see any (ironic, huh?). We need God to be our light, to expose our hidden places.

Why? John is very clear…he says that if we sin but don’t recognize it as such or call it sin, we make God out to be a liar, and His word is not in us. We must be so careful not to fall into that. So often, it’s easy to say that something we’re doing isn’t “one of the big ones,” that it’s only jealousy or anger or covetousness. But God’s Word is clear on those. It is sin. It separates us from God. It is not what He wants from us or for us. Our job is to honor Him and chase after His heart. This is so uncomfortable, but we must ask God to reveal areas that we are falling short, and then we must confess those as sin.

Don’t be like the pilots, fooled into thinking that just because they couldn’t see the tracer bullets meant they weren’t getting shot at. Ask God to show you your blind spots, because that is where the danger is lurking closest.

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” -Psalm 139:23

In Christ,

Christopher