Who Packs Your Parachute?

Charles Plumb was a US Navy jet pilot in Vietnam. After running 75 combat missions, his plane was ultimately destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted right into enemy hands. He was captured and ended up spending six years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal, and now he lectures on lessons learned from that experience.

One day, while 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 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.” He couldn’t sleep later that night, thinking about that man. He kept wondering what he might have looked like in a Navy uniform; a white hat, a bib in the back and bell-bottom trousers. He wondered how many times he saw him and didn’t even bother to say, “Good morning, how are you?” Or, anything at all…because he was a fighter pilot and the other guy was just a sailor.

Plumb thought of all the manhours the sailor had spent at 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 even know. Plumb asks his audiences, “Who’s packing your parachute?” Everyone has someone that provides what they need to make it through the day. He admits that he had needed many different kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down over enemy territory. He all at once needed; his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his emotional parachute and, last but not least, his spiritual parachute. He called on all these supports before he reached safety again.

Sometimes, in the daily challenges that life gives us, we miss what is really important. We may fail to say hello, please or thank you, congratulate someone on something wonderful that has happened to them, give a compliment, or just do something nice for no reason. As you go through the week, this month, this year; recognize people who pack your parachute.

Blessings, Pastor Michael

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