Charles Plumb was a US Navy jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was hit by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent six years in a Vietcong prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from his experience.
One day, 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.”
Plumb couldn’t sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb says, “I kept wondering what he had looked like in a Navy uniform: a white 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 must have spent at a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship, carefully folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn’t know.
Now, Plumb asks his audiences, “Who’s packing your parachute?” Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day. He 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 needed all these supports before reaching safety.
Sometimes in the daily challenges that life gives us, we miss what is 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 this week, this month, this year, recognize people who pack your parachutes and look for opportunities to pack someone else’s parachute.
Scripture Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:11–15
- Who packs your parachute? Who in your life encourages and equips you? Go out of your way to thank those individuals.
- Whose parachute are you packing? As you go throughout your day, look for individuals whom you can encourage. But don’t merely do this today; make it your way of life.
Jim Grassi, D. Min.
We cherish any verse in Scripture that reminds us to keep focused and intentional about evangelism and discipleship. “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:5