(A 2014 rendering of the life of Christ's Church throughout eternity!)
Lt. Charles Plumb, a US Naval Academy graduate, was a jet fighter pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent 6 years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience.
One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, "You're Lt. Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!"
"How in the world did you know that?" asked Plumb. "I packed your parachute," the man replied. Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude.
The man pumped his hand and said, "I guess the chute worked!" Plumb assured him, "It sure did. If your chute hadn't worked, I wouldn't be here today."
Plumb couldn't sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb says, "I kept wondering what he might have looked like in a Navy uniform - a Dixie cup hat, a bib in the back, and bell bottom trousers. I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not even said good morning, how are you or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor."
Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent on a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn't know.
Now, Plumb asks his audience, "Who's packing your parachute?" Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day.
Plumb also points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down over enemy territory-he needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his emotional parachute, and his spiritual parachute. He called on all these supports before reaching safety.
His experience reminds us all to prepare ourselves to weather whatever storms lie ahead. As you go through this week, this month, this year... Recognize people who pack your parachute!
Eight years ago in the May Newsletter, I used this story to focus on life in general and to encourage each of us to take note of, and give thanks for, the grace of God that has come to us through our friends and acquaintances and family (our kin, and our King). In looking back, I noticed my comments being about seeing others who are being blessed as they are the recipients of love. Brenda and I have been on the receiving end of such love in the last few years. We have received a barrage of cards, letters, calls and drop-ins with meals and visits; these came from members of St. John's, members of Reinbeck and local communities, as well as acquaintances over our 37 years of public ministry.
From cards and calls of concern, love and support, and even in a calendar of meals sponsored by Dorcas, you have blessed us in a challenging time. This reminds us of God's providing for His People in a parachute formed through your hearts, hands. We thank God for the blessings of our life and salvation purchased for us in the blood, love and faithfulness of Christ, who did not stop until He had given his life for you, me and the world.
I may still be limping around with physical pain in my right ankle that radiates up the leg as each day progresses, but we continue to be lifted by the gentle and loving spirits God continues to work through in all of our lives in His Church. I'm sure I will have other opportunities to express our thanksgiving and love for you all, but this Easter Season finds Brenda retired and me poised for the same. We have aged these 14 years in the midst of many challenges, but even more love and compassion. We appreciate you for your love, and schooled in that love of God expressed through you. God bless you in the time He continues to bless you through as you remember my power verse in Romans, "28. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29. For those God fore knew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 32. He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-how will he not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?"
Rich blessings as you live and love in the name of Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord and Savior,
Pastor and Brenda