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Who’s packing your parachute?

October 20, 2008

by Pastor Lee Hallstrom, Light of Christ Lutheran Church, Delano

Jet fighter pilot Charles Plum had flown 75 combat missions during the Vietnam War when his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plum ejected safely, but was captured by the North Vietnamese and endured six years in a communist prison camp.

In his lectures about that experience, Plum often shares an incident in which a man approached him and his wife in a restaurant. “You’re Plum!” the man exclaimed. “You flew jet fighters in Vietnam off the aircraft carrier, Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!”

“How in the world did you know that?” asked Plum.

“I packed your parachute,” the man replied. “I guess it worked!”

“It sure did,” Plum said. “If your chute hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today.”

That night, Plum couldn’t sleep. How many times, he wondered, had he passed that man on the ship and not even said good morning, ignoring him because he was “just a sailor,” not a fellow pilot. And yet, with each parachute he packed, that man held in his hands the fate of the person who would wear it.

Who are we failing to appreciate? Who aren’t we noticing?

One of God’s greatest gifts to each of us are the people who touch our lives. How often, however, do we acknowledge their importance? Or, as Plum asks those to whom he speaks, “Who’s packing your parachute?”

The apostle Paul knew the answer to that question and that’s why in his letters, he often said, “I thank my God for you.”

Can we do the same? Why not take some time in the day to come to acknowledge those “who are packing your parachute.”

May all joy be yours in believing!