June 28 – When The Odds Are Not in Your Favor

Even at six million to one, I don’t like the odds.  Not when you’re talking about eternity.
I will be speaking at the Men’s Breakfast at a neighbor church on Saturday morning.  We’ll be thinking about the ways that confidence beats certainty every time – in fact, the futility of certainty and the wrongness of being right. 
I will save that message for Saturday morning, but my preparations got me thinking about certainties and probabilities and odds. One thing led to the next; this article and then that post and one of them mentioned an intriguing travel app, and, well, I had to download it to my phone. 
Am I Going Down? (available for Android or Apple) is a fear of flying app. You enter your route and the type of aircraft and then the app tells you the odds of crashing and how many flights you’d have to take before you’d have to start getting nervous.
Becky and I are flying out to Washington state later next month, so I entered our information. and Am I Going Down calculated our odds.  We have a 1 in 6,333,688 chance of having our flight crash before we debark in Seattle.  The app adds that we could take that same flight every day for 17,353 years before we went down. 
The odds are meant to comfort the fearful flyer. I got pretty anxious thinking about going through airport security every day for 17,353 years. 
Certainties and probabilities are fact based. The maker of Am I Going Down tell us “10 million routes can be assessed using actual data from sources such as the Geneva-based Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives, the United States National Transportation Safety Board and the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization.”
It turns out we could have gotten 379 additional years of daily flights if we had booked on United instead of Alaska, but that flight has a layover in Denver, and we think the non-stop is worth the risk. 
Confidence is not about facts or a massive data upload.  It is about faith and believing a story unlike any story ever told, the story of Jesus and his love. You can’t prove it and no data dump is going to improve the odds of it being true. In fact the odds of it being true are not good at all,  Foolishness, the intelligentsia among the Greeks called it. But you can believe it and then find the improbable and unprovable  – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control suddenly showing up at the least expected times.  
With “proper confidence,”  author Lesslie Newbigin’s wonderful phrase, we boldly sing, “When we’ve been there 17,353 years, long past TSA, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun.”
See you Sunday