Charles Plumb, a U.S. 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, and spent six years in a Communist prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures about 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 Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!”
“How in the world did you know all 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 it 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. “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 wondered how many times I might have passed him on the Kitty Hawk. I wondered 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 how 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.”
Look around this Sunday at Shelby Crossings at the parachute packers on every side, upon whom we each depend to “make it through the day.” Their prayer and support, their encouragement and accountability, their love and friendship, and their faithful service on so many different sides, help sustain each of us through even the greatest falls. And as we approach life’s leaps of faith, it’s great to now that we have people packing our parachute that we can count on. That’s what genuine Christian community is all about.
I’m sure glad our Lord has called us to serve Him together. I don’t know another church in the world I’d rather be a part of than The Church at Shelby Crossings. I am praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.