Avoid The Mistake That Kills

Prepared for anything!

There is a mistake that kills time, progress, and sometimes people.  It causes confusion and hesitation in moments where confidence and clear thinking is essential.

Here are a couple of  illustrations of the insidious affect this mistake has on behavior.  See if you can identify what the mistake is.

Illustration one: Yesterday as my road manager and I walked through Minneapolis airport we came to a moving walkway that was not moving.  Even with every visual cue confirming that the walkway was stopped and and verbal acknowledgment that it was not moving we both stumbled as we stepped on it.

Illustration two: A twin engine pilot knows, the most critical moment in flight is that moment just before the pilot reaches takeoff speed.  If an engine fails at that moment the pilot must immediately complete a series of actions in exactly the right order or she will crash.  Many pilots have died because when this moment became a reality, even though all the visual clues indicated engine failure, they stumbled and failed to complete the tasks that could save their lives.

The mistake? Thousands of times stepping onto a moving walkway had conditioned us to expect that same sensation every time.  We were unprepared for the unexpected sensation of stepping on to a walkway that was motionless. We stumbled.

My flight instructor told me that the most dangerous pilots were those who had experienced thousands of takeoffs without incident.  He taught me to say out loud before every takeoff, “this could be the time.” He then trained me to mentally go through actions that would keep the plane flying, touching each control in the order it would be needed.

This preparation saved my life one day when an engine failed.

How prepared are you for the complete change that could come to your life tomorrow or even in the next seconds?  The loss of a loved one, an economic crisis, a relational conflict, a health challenge, the loss of a job are all things that change the movement of life in an instant.

Of course we shouldn’t be running around like Chicken Little waiting for the sky to fall.  But it is critical that we have the courage to look at the “what ifs” in life and consider what our actions will be.

Are you prepared or will you stumble?

I love hearing your comments


  1. I told myself I was prepared. I knew it was coming. The surgeon told us after the very first surgery that, statistically, Larry had 13 months to live. I had watched his body and mind deteriorate from the brain cancer to a shadow of the man I’d married… one who could not walk, talk, or even sit up. He could still sing along to his favorite praise and worship songs though, amazing! I lay beside him for over 2 hours as his body struggled to give birth to his spirit into the hands of our Savior. With each haggard breath, I knew it was closer. But when the moment came and Larry was truly gone, when I could no longer hold his hand or caress his cheek. I stumbled. Exactly one year to the day after the surgeon told us Larry would die, he was gone and I sat there in numb disbelief. I was prepared for this, I new it was coming. But I fell. I am so thankful for the hands that delivered Larry’s spirit, and also caught me. They still catch me every day, when I remember that he’s gone… and I fall.

    1. that’s beautiful, Shelley. I’m so sorry for your loss and so very, very thankful for a Savior that can and does “catch”.


    2. Author

      Shelly, Thank you for this very insightful and touching comment. I am fear that my post might have come across as a bit glib especially as the topic relates to losing a loved one. For that I ask forgiveness. It was not my intent. Only those who have walked through this valley can really know what it is like. As I read through your response a couple of thoughts came to my mind. First, I want to be sure that my readers understand that God’s love never diminishes even if we do fall. In truth he supplies and extra measure of love and comfort for those who walk in the shadow of the valley of death. Second, unlike taking the controls of an airplane or carefully contemplating a new sensation stepping onto a broken conveyor belt, there is really no way to avoid or any reason to feel guilty for the grief that accompanies the loss of a loved one, even the grief that washes over you years later. Shelly, You prepared in the best way possible. You prepared to fall into the arms of the Lord who loves you most of all. It occurred to me that perhaps you didn’t really fall at all. Thank you again for the perspective of someone who has been there.

  2. Yeah…I stumbled too…after months of doctors appointments too search for a cause for swelling in my left leg. I had gotten used to hearing…nothing, everything looks fine…that test came back normal. I remember praying God I’m frustrated they can’t find anything wrong…but I know my leg isn’t swelling for no reason. Its painful and I can’t even wear my work boots to go to work some days.

    You hear of stories of other people going for routine tests and having the breath knocked out of them when a test comes back abnormal only to find some mass or cancer or whatever. You feel sadness…you feel compassion and want so much to do something, say something to ease their burden. However, did I ever think about it happening to me?

    At this time I was grasping, tell me something ABnormal so we can fix it. Then all will be well in my world again. I never really thought about what they would find, I mean, I did but never thought they would come through the door and say…nope, your not crazy, there’s something wrong…a belly full of tumors. There went my wind. Cancer? We don’t THINK so.

    You never are really prepared for the feeling of your body being violated by some alien object. Feeling malested in a way. But, I can honestly say, even when my breath was lost I had peace. Gods got me in his hands…he has the whole world in his hands; even me a grain of sand among it.

    One large surgery to remove grapefruit size tumors and 6 recovery weeks later my body was free of the alien. But, what if it hadn’t been? What if the stories of a cancer that won’t be as easily removed makes a visit at my door? No, not chicken little…but thankful for every moment I have with my babies, my family, my church family, my friends; and thankful for every moment God gives me to tell the world of his Amazing Grace! Thankful, so thankful that he has me in his hand and nothing, not even tumors/cancer, can snatch me away. My Gods grasp will never weaken even when I do! Thank you Jesus!

    1. Not only does God have you in His hands Misty, He has His hands IN you! Praise God that your cancer was removable!! What a strange way to manifest itself, but good on you to not give up when the tests kept coming back with normal results on your leg. I like feeling tiny enough to nestle in the palm of my Father, and big enough to spread the news of His power in my life!!

    2. Author

      Misty, thank you so much for your comment. I hope you will read my response to Shelly, who lost here husband. I am afraid the word stumble carried with it the connotation of doing something bad. In reality I only wanted to help people be prepared. The most telling statement in your reply was “What if the cancer wasn’t gone?” It was a question I had to ask when I lost my granddaughter in the mountains at 10,500 ft. What if she had not been found? My answer drew me closer to God than ever before. If she had not been found, God would have been my only hope. In that worst of moments, I would have needed him more than ever. That may be why I believe that although we can’t prepare in a way that will remove grief or worry, we can prepare as Shelly expressed to fall into his arms. that may be the best preparation of all.

      1. I did read the comments back when you first posted this, and I understood. I don’t/didn’t think I had done anything bad in this instance.

        I was thinking about this article again this week and decided to read it again. All my stumblings have been “good,” even though painful. I find myself right now struggling with one. This one is a stumbling I have brought on myself unlike the tumors that were out of my control. It breaks my heart. These are tumors I have grown myself. I seek to remove them as aggresively as the others were removed. This time my surgeon is the Holy Spirit. I believe this surgery will be more successful…Hebrews 4:12…For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart…..

        We must not be afraid of this kind of surgery, remembering his “plans to prosper and not to harm.” Remembering… Hebrews 12:11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

        Just like your fitness journey…it can be painful…life, it can be so painful…just like this pilot, trained for emergencies, but if complacency sets in can miss the signs, or see the signs and stumble over them… A good reminder for me again today… 

        I am also reminded of the scriptures that remind us to watch and pray for the days are evil, to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. All it takes is a moments for our eyes not to be fixed on Jesus and let our guards down for a stumbling to occur. I am reminded of these things today. 

        Looooove the clips from seriously funny on davidjeremiah.org!!!! Sooooooo getting that DVD!

        I am so sorry for your grand daughter, I can’t imagine… How is your wife doing?

  3. It’s an unpredictable world, but all of life’s problems have the same basic preparations (and solutions). Reading the Bible (our “owners manual to life”) praying and praising/worshiping God. If we practice doing these things before the problem arises, then we’ll know what to do when it actually happens. Not to say that suddenly everything will be fine and dandy, but we’ll know how to use the tools that will help us to cope.

  4. When people mentally prepare for these days / challenges, one might think “trust in the Lord” He will see me though. What they seem to forget is faith without works is dead and God prefers us to actively participate. As you once said, “This life is not a waiting room for things to come”.

    1. I am also not insensitive to each of your loses and struggles. In a 9 month period I lost my mom to brain cancer, my husband and brother to suicide. I wanted to curl up and die with them. It took a lot for God to prop me up and get me actively participating in life again. So I guess I should have given a bit more detail in my reply. Sorry if I came across hurtful. I have no doubt God carried me though he also kicked me in the butt to get me going. A gentle reminder that I still had living to do which is hard after any loss

      1. Your comments are a blessing. I have to remind myself there are no easy answers, but there is hope. I’ll hang on to that.

    2. I totally agree Mary, there are days when I need the kick in the butt to get me jump started, even though it’s been a little over a year now. But there are also days when I am excited about the future that God is leading me in to… using my grief and my journey to help others who are facing a similar journey. This side of Heaven is about the journey… I have felt God’s presence in so many tangible ways and I am thankful for each one. But none so much as knowing that He is there to catch me when my knees give way. The butt kicks aren’t always appreciated at the time, but looking back… Oh Yeah!!! You are soooo right.

  5. Having lived more than half a century, I’ve experienced enough to know how I might respond in many tough situations, and to actively think about possible variations to those situations. But your blog made me stop to ask myself, “what are the situations I’m not expecting, or not willing to consider?” And then I thought, “how would I respond to rejection, humiliation, failure, or some other emotional crisis involving my sense of security or pride?” Am I prepared to turn the other cheek, be humbled, be needy or lifted up, be encouraging, repent, or give thanks for daily mercy? Am I prepared to be joyful and live abundantly? Have I practiced the necessary actions?”

    1. Leanne, Your statement that the blog made you stop and think, means alot to me. You need to know that all the comments I receive make ME stop and think. Thanks

  6. Ken — great post. The company where I work just went through another huge re-organization. All of the staffers in the cubicles around me were laid off in one morning. Once again I was spared, but it scared me that I have no “plan B” in case I lose this job. Thanks for reminding me to stay vigilant and to aware. Great analogy with the pilot just before take-off.

  7. Great article Ken. The responses here are overwhelming. I’ll see if I can articulate what I really want to say here — Growing up in a rather chaotic environment I sometimes overcomensate a bit as an adult. I tend to over plan, over prepare and over blue print my life – funny thing is God has better plans for me when I’m willing to let go. Some things should be planned for so that when things like hardship, temptations, or just life strikes we know how to respond so as not to stumble, and yet other things just knock the wind out of us and leave me breathless. THOSE become the best teachable moments of my life.

    I don’t mean that flip. I’ve hit many walls in my life. Fallen flat on my face through bad choices or circumstances that were beyond my control; whether it’s the sinful behavior of others, sickness in a loved one or phobias that haven’t totally healed.(Pastors in black send me into a panic attack and I don’t know why)

    When I face a situation that I was prepared for and don’t stumble, I get cocky. When I get surprised, left breathless and brought to my knees God takes over in such a way that I cannot help but remember that HE was prepared for a time such as this and I need him to guide my steps, even when I think I’m prepared. Blessings, Deana

    1. Thanks Deana,

      I am more convince than ever that the best preparation we can make. Is to lean on him. Everyone will stumble at some point. He will keep us from falling. I heard in Church! (-;

  8. Stepping onto that walkway was one of the strangest sensations I have ever felt. Great post.

    On a side note, I don’t remember you ever telling me about this ‘precise order of steps necessary to keep the plane flying.’ But, I am glad you kept the statement ‘this could be the time’ to yourself. 🙂 There are definitely things we are better not knowing or hearing.

    1. Watching you stumble when you got on and then again when you got off, was one of the strangest sensations I have ever had. (-;

  9. In 1977, at 20 years old, I thought I was indestructible.I was raised in the church and thought, as many young people do, that being a Christian kept you out of harm’s way, but a series of events sent me on a downward spiral that took me 32 years to recover from.

    In the Spring of 1977 I was raped. I was so horrified I didn’t tell anyone, not even my childhood sweetheart. Society had taught me that the woman was as much to blame. I beat myself up with my questions of whether I could have stopped it, or fought harder, even though he had a gun and was a police officer.I was scared of the ramifications, and blamed myself.My family wasn’t close so no one realized how despondent I had become. It wasn’t until I realized I might be pregnant that I had to talk to someone. I confided in a male friend, and he told me I had to tell my parents. He also offered to marry me and tell everyone the baby was his. Only our parents would know the truth. He had been married twice before and had no children and he wanted a family. I didn’t believe I would ever be happy again, so marrying someone I didn’t love, that didn’t love me, didn’t seem wrong at the time.What I didn’t know at that time was that my new husband was a sex addict and abuser. My dad was devastated…my mom didn’t believe me. My mom yelled…my dad cried that he hadn’t protected his little girl.My dad & I were close. Although I was a girl, I was the only boy my dad had. He taught me everything there was to know about sports, and we did everything together.

    So I got married, moved out of my parents home, and started a life. Two months later, Jan 1978 my grandmother (dad’s mom)died and was buried on my 21st birthday. In late Feb. my dad got sick and went to the local hospital for test. I had never seen my dad sick in my life, so I wasn’t worried. Dad’s don’t get sick!The hospital took xrays but they came back clear, so they sent him to another hospital 30 miles away that had better equipment.They found the cancer, and sent his xrays to MD Anderson in Houston. They said “Don’t bother”!Within a week, on March 1st, 1978 my dad died. A month later my son was born, a week after what would have been my dad’s 58th birthday.

    After the birth of my son, my new husband’s addictions came to life. Abuse, sexual addictions, I thought I deserved it all. A month after my son was born, he almost died from dehydration, from allergies to his formula. He spent a week in Parkland Hospital in Dallas, with IV’s in his little head.I was told I was a bad mother, a bad wife, a bad daughter. I believed that I killed my dad, that if not for my sins he would have had the want to fight the cancer, but I knew it was my fault because of his disappointment in me.Then I found out I was pregnant again.If I had thought God loved me before, I was totally convinced of the opposite now.It took me 32 years, two abusive marriages, many failed attempts at ending my life, and the knowledge that I would always be alone, before I got help.

    In the last two years I have realized that God never left me, or failed me, and that He definitely loved me.It was just that every bad thing that happened in my life took me further and further from him, instead of closer to him.I had given up, no hope in sight, instead of resting in his care. Of course in my defense I didn’t even understand what “resting in his care” meant at that time. It’s only been in the last few years that God has taught me so many things about his love and grace, and God has used many people in my life to teach me about “looking for God” instead of looking for His Will, about being content in all things, the good and the bad because God has me in the right place at the right time, about “counting my blessings” instead of looking at what I don’t have,or being depressed because I am alone.In the last year I have learned to trust in, lean on, and depend on this wonderful, loving Savior, who was always there, even though I didn’t know it.

    My blessings….well, that son grew up to be my hero, serving in Iraq in the US Army.After receiving an honorable discharge from the Army, because of injuries received while in Iraq, my son has gone on to show me just how blessed I am to have him in my life. My daughter, born in 1979, just 11 months after my son, is married to a young man in the Coast Guard, and she is the strongest person I know, and has blessed me with 2 wonderful, adorable grandsons, that are 5 and 3 years old.

    I’m not sure, even today, that I am prepared for anything, but I do know that what I perceived to be bad in my life, can turn out to be a blessing from God, that he can use even the worst of days for his glory. That’s why Paul could be content in all things, because we don’t always know the reasons God allows us to go through what we do, but we can rest in the knowledge that He is in control, and all we have to do is trust in His goodness, and in His faithfulness!

    Thanks Ken for your blogs, and the inspiration you give us all. God has used you greatly in many lives because you are willing! Thank you for your willingness to serve!

    1. Thank YOU Beth for sharing your story!! It hit me like a ton of bricks. In my 20’s I was also raped. My rapist was a medical doctor. I had gone to see him for an employment physical. Unlike you I told everyone that would listen, but no one heard. I went to the police. They looked at me in my wheelchair and thought I was retarded. I explained what happen to me. They replied, “ma’am you just don’t realize physical exams can be uncomfortable” I screamed, officer you don’t understand the man…. and I was escorted from the police station. I went straight to my parents and they said if the police wouldn’t do any thing what more can we do. My dad went on to explain of his experience being assaulted by a Priest and his advice was put it behind you and move on. My rapist was caught 9 years later when the statute of limitations had run out on my rape, so my voice was never heard. But I’m sure the cop I went back to talk to 9 years later had some sleepless nights wondering how many of those rapes he could have stopped if he had listened to me. My rapist did his community service where my mom worked and every time I went in there I ran the risk of looking him in the face or hearing someone working there say how wonderful he is how he couldn’t have done the things he was accused of. The only people who have heard me speak of my rape are my helpers that take me to doctor appointments, and now you. I have learned what does not kill us makes us stronger and when we share our experiences we grow and we help others to grow. Thank you for sharing.

      1. Mary, thanks for sharing. I don’t know how many times over the years I have asked God to take that pain away. The pain of the rape, the pain of leaving my childhood sweetheart, the pain of my dad’s death, the pain of 2 failed marriages, and the pain of being alone. I see Christian couples, and I know what the Bible says about the wife God wants me to be, and I know how willing I am to be that wife, when God sends me that Christian man. I’ve never had that in a marriage, and I long for that…it is the utmost desire of my heart, but I had to come to the realization that God might never give me that desire. In the last 2 years I have grown tremendously in my walk with God, and have gotten to a place where I totally trust Him in my life. Although I don’t hurt anymore for the things I have gone through, I still know what that pain felt like, and I realize that God allows me to remember the pain, so that I can help others, that I can feel their pain, and have compassion and love for them, and express to them God’s love and grace is for everyone.Mark Lowry wrote a song many, many years ago,called “For Just One Glimpse Of You”, and one of the lines of that song is “Let me look into your eyes, and watch, my dreams come true”.The first time I heard that line, I got excited because I thought it meant that God would give me the desires of my heart, and I even read a verse in the Bible that said God would gives us the desires of our hearts, but the more I read and the more I listened to that song, the more I realized that what it means is that we become so close to God, so close that we can look into His eyes, and His desires for our lives, become our desires. How fantastic is that! That we are so close to God, and walk so close with Him that we can see in His eyes His plans for us, and they become the desires of our hearts!! It’s not that we become as much like Him, as it is that He lives through us, indwelt in us.

        Thanks again Mary for your words!



        1. Beth or Shelley if you could guide me on one point in my road to recovery I would ask this question. We know that God is loving, compassionate, all knowing all forgiving. I know that God loves me and forgives me, but I haven’t gotten to a place where I can forgive myself.

          1. Mary, I’ve been where you are, not able to forgive myself, beating myself up daily for things I could and couldn’t control in my life. Mary, God bestows grace upon us, not that we deserve it, or have earned it. If that were so it wouldn’t be called grace. Not only does God give us his grace, but we have to allow God to give others the same grace. Not only that, but we have to extend that same grace from us, to others. God is impartial, he doesn’t see one sin as being greater than another, only we do that in our finite minds. Sin is sin, so God’s grace for me is the same for you, and everyone else. Mary, God has forgiven us (extended his grace), so how can we not forgive each other, or OURSELVES! If we truly understand God’s love and grace, we HAVE to forgive ourselves. When Christ died on the Cross he took away all our sins, past, present, and future. Those sins that we live with daily, aren’t ours to hang on to, they were already paid for. You forgive yourself because there is no debt. It has been paid!!

            God Bless you,


        2. Also Beth in honor of my husband, who was an army man by running a “Mission Project” that sends care packages to those in service. My husband took his life and I share my experience strength and hope so that soldiers facing those struggles when they come home will make a different choice then my husband and my brother. Please tell your son thanks for his service. If you know anyone in need of a care package give me a heads up.

    2. Beth, you are an amazingly strong woman with a lot to offer to younger women who are hurting and lost… women who are lost in the trenches of the abuses you have been through. I had an abusive marriage and one abusive relationship before God literally brought my beloved Larry to me and told me I would be marrying him. I mentor young women now who have been through abuse, help them see that nothing that happened was their fault and NOTHING that happened to them was bad enough to cause God to not love them. Life is just beginning Friend!!!

    3. Beth, You are so very welcome. I am honored that God can use words from a clueless man to help someone who has been through what you have experienced. Hope you will come here often.

  10. Wow! Reading these replies really shook me. I read the post and was challenged to pay attention to creating a routine that keeps me in constant communications with God. To have a routine that prepares my heart knowing that He loves me but that “life happens” so when faced with those unexpected moments I can keep safe in His arms, even in the midst of whatever happens.

    So many made themselves vulnerable in these replies. I am humbled to see how God has worked in each of you and thank you for the life HE has given and for the facts that you are able to make these statements and give honor to the creator God even with such losses and challenges as were expressed.

    I believe I will read and think more carefully when I read blogs in the future. To honor the God who created me and to prepare my heart for whatever “next step” He sets before me knowing when I make that step He is right there beside me.

  11. This is/was the first time I have ever blogged. I just wanted to add a Thank you, for everyone’s openness in their sharing. I found it to be a very growing experience to share. I was stuck and sharing with you all has opened a door or a window to new insight. Thank you!

  12. I had no warning of a health crisis, having to cut my working hours in half, struggle in pain for over a year, on medications, vitamin supplements, using multiple health care people. I was healthy I thought, went to the gym, ate properly. I quickly had to learn new priorities, slow my life down, and reassess how to cope. My body was obviously trying to tell me something. I remembered God had been impressing on me for the prior year to slow down, but I didn’t quite get the “how to”.

    I have cut excessive activity out of my life, have lovely refreshing times with God, where He says “Come sit with Me” – awesome God!

    I now have new priorities; lovely restful, SLOW days, sleep well, eat even healthier, have some energy returning and at 65 will do my part time hours till God gives me new direction. YAY!

Leave a Comment