Vol. 11 No. 3 March 2009
“How did he do it…?” The national media has touted Chesly Sullenberger as a national hero. The internet, newspapers and television have all given him special praise. Even President Bush made a congratulatory call. The accolades are not unwarranted. Mr. Sullenberger, or “Sully” as he’s called by his friends, did something extraordinary.
He was piloting US Airways flight 1549 over New York City when his craft collided with a flock of birds. Moments later he somehow managed to land the crippled aircraft in the Hudson River without the loss of life or serious injury. It was an incredible effort. Many have deemed it “miraculous.”
Yet, it really wasn’t a miracle. A miracle—in the biblical sense—is not just something highly unusual; it is something that supersedes the laws of nature (Mark 16:17-19). If the Airbus A320 was suddenly suspended in mid-air, that would have been a miracle.
Though, don’t misunderstand me; Sullenberger did something worthy of the laurels he’s received. What makes this real-life story so compelling is that he was uniquely qualified for this kind of emergency. He had been preparing virtually all of his life for this very kind of circumstance.
Chesly Sullenberger was ready. When the pressure was on, he called upon his years of training, expertise and observation. Even when it was obvious the plane was going down, Sullenberger not only flew the broken jetliner, but he came over the intercom and calmly told his 149 fellow passengers, “Brace for impact.”
I hope the analogy is obvious. All of us face crises in our lives. All of us. (If you haven’t, you will.) Maybe it’s an untimely death. Maybe it’s a crushing financial difficulty or loss of a job. Maybe it’s a serious, life-threatening illness. Maybe it’s a heartbreaking, soul-wrenching relationship problem. Maybe it’s a haunting addiction. Maybe it’s a combination of issues. Sooner or later, we all face “mid-air collisions.”
However, why is it that some brethren not only endure great adversity, but they seem to somehow conquer it? In terms of this recent aviation accident, why is it that some folks manage to “land safely,” even under great duress, while other children of God “crash and burn”? Why is it that some Christians continue to live faithfully despite incalculable pain, while others leave the Lord and the church?
The answer may sound too simplistic, but it’s biblical. It’s a matter of faith. Faith!
Dear reader, are you preparing? Are you, like Chesly, training (1 Peter 1:6-7)? Paul says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10.17). Faith comes from hearing and reading and thinking about the Word!
Some brethren spend a lifetime with a TV remote in their hand. Other’s skip Lord’s Day Bible Study and the evening assembly, not to mention Wednesday night class. They don’t even bring a Bible to the assembly! “Do I have to?” “Am I obligated to?” they ask. “Do I have to read, and study and meditate?” “I don’t have the time!” they insist. Then the collision comes. They crash.
There’s a flock of birds on the horizon. Are you ready? “Brace for impact.”