Chapter 15: The Compass Check

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On September 1st, 1983, a Korean Airlines (KAL) 747, carrying 269 people, took off from Anchorage, Alaska headed for Seoul, Korea.

Shortly after takeoff, the aircraft began to deviate from the planned route of flight by the equivalent of two degrees. After almost an hour of fight, KAL Flight 007 was 12 miles off course.

Limited radar coverage over the northern pacific prohibited ground controllers from identifying this error.

The pilots for KAL 007 believed the autopilot had them on the correct flight path and did not discover the ever-increasing deviation from course.

Ninety minutes into the flight, the deviation was 60 miles. After three hours, the jumbo jet was 160 miles off course.

When it mistakenly over flew Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, Soviet fighter jets were scrambled, believing the intruder to be an American military reconnaissance aircraft.

As the unsuspecting airliner continued its incursion into Russian airspace, a Soviet Su-15 maneuvered into position and fired two missiles. The crippled aircraft crashed into the sea twelve minutes later, killing everyone onboard.

This sobering story brings a sharp point to some of the principles we have discussed in the book.

Navigation Is Of Life And Death Importance

Therefore, it deserves our focused attention.

Information from the cockpit voice recorder revealed the pilots of KAL Flight 007 had no idea they were off course or that they faced grave danger.

When the missiles exploded at the tail end of their aircraft, they were dumbfounded.

Accepting Only A General Sense Of The Direction We Are Headed Can Lead You On A Path Towards A Destination You Will Regret

KAL Flight 007 looked good from a distance. It was generally headed in the right direction. It was never off course more than 10 degrees in the more than five hours of flight before it was shot down.

However, the pilots did not closely inspect their navigational instruments to determine if they were truly on course.

It Is Vital To Recognize The Threats We Face

The pilots did not recognize that a flight path deviation could result in destruction by a lurking adversary.

If they had a clear understanding of the threat, then their actions — and the outcome of the flight — would have been different.

Our situation is remarkably similar.

The valuable reminders from this tragic account provide additional motivation to take our last step of finalizing the means to check our compass.

Time For A Change

Up to this point, you have contemplated life as a journey and clarified the vision for your destination at the end.

You have considered the importance of navigation and the significance of determining what you will use as your compass for life.

You have grappled with the significance of your choices and the part they play in leading to your destination.

You have been presented questions that you will find important at the end of your life:

Are you aiming for busy or full, good or godly?

The American dream or Kingdom of God?

In answering these questions, you have had the chance to check your compass, to see where you are headed and if course corrections are needed.

Our last step then, is to develop a fully functional way to check your compass for the rest of your life.