Matthew 20.28 and parachutes
Dean reminded me of this and it reminds me again of people like Lizzie Eaton. Their names don't go up in lights, they get no medals, authors don't write adventure stories about them, they don't make the honours lists and it never enters their minds that they should, but the world depends on them. George Eliot famously wrote right at the end of Middlemarch, "That all is not so ill with you and me as it might have been is largely due to those who lived hidden lives and now rest in unvisited graves."
Charles Plumb was a US Navy jet 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 six 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 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."
"I packed your parachute."
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. He 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, after all, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor." He thought of the many hours 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 know.
It doesn't matter to me that all this sounds a bit sweet—though I find a little sugar goes a long way. Real people, actual, specific people who never make the headlines or the honour lists keep even the cynical or those of us who have just too much realism for our own good—they keep us alive and well.
He blew no trumpets, didn't whisper his good deeds in the ears of the influential; in fact, without parading it, he "made himself of no reputation" (Philippians 2, KJV) and announced when he came that he came to save by serving (Luke 4:16-21 and Matthew 20:28).
Can his followers do any less?
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.
Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, theabidingword.com.