9th February 2013

Who Packed Your Parachute?

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

I recently read this story about Charles Plumb, who was a US Navy Jet Pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions he was shot down by a surface to air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He spent 6 difficult years as a Prisoner of War, but survived, and now lectures on the lessons learned from that experience.

He tells the story of how one day when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant a man came up to him and said, “ You’re Charles Plumb. You flew Jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down.”
“How in the world do you know that?” asked Plumb.
“I packed your parachute,” the man replied, “ I guess it worked.”
Plumb assured him, “It sure did. If your chute hadn’t worked I wouldn’t be here today.”

Thinking about it afterwards, Plumb reflected that he probably wouldn’t even have said, “ Good Morning”, if he had come across the man on board the carrier, because he was an elite pilot and the man only a low-ranking seaman. Nor had he ever been down into the depths of the ship where the man worked packing parachutes which could mean the difference between life and death to a total stranger. Packing a parachute is a very skilled but low key job. Charles Plumb took it for granted that, when he needed it, his parachute would work.

Being shot down in a combat situation is a very high stress experience. The parachute saved his life, but he was then tested and tried by six years of captivity, another high stress situation.  This story has a resonance for us as Christians. We often face high stress situations in our lives. The death of a loved one, a major health problem, persecution for our beliefs, living in grinding poverty, feeling unappreciated, losing our job, and all the other stresses and strains of life.

Sometimes we may need a physical parachute, sometimes an emotional parachute, sometimes a mental parachute, sometimes a spiritual parachute. Whatever our need, who packed our parachute?  Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ! Christ not only gave his life willingly to pay the penalty for all our sins, but walks with us down the path of life, supporting, strengthening and encouraging us, always making sure that we do not carry a burden which is beyond our ability to bear. Christ is our parachute keeping us supported while we ride the stormy winds or gentle breezes of our physical lives today. He has always packed our parachute in exactly the right way and it will always work whenever we need it.

Having met the man who packed his parachute, Charles Plumb pumped the man’s hand and expressed his deep gratitude for what the man had done for him. We too should remember to always express our gratitude to God for what he has done and is still doing for us as we wait patiently for our parachute to land us, not in enemy territory, but in the loving arms of our God.

Most merciful Father, thank you for your incredible love and concern for us, that no matter what our circumstances, you are our support and strength.

Study by Keith Hartrick

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One Response to “9th February 2013”

  1. John Magowan on February 9th, 2013 10:59 am

    A great story and analogy about the parachute, Keith! A good one to remember when we are facing problems that seem insurmountable to us.

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