Who Packs Your Parachute?

Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” In fact, some of the parts that seem weakest and least important are really the most necessary. –1 Corinthians 12:20-22 (NLT)

I’ve read the story about Charles Plum, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, who was a jet fighter 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 prison. He survived that ordeal and now lectures about lessons learned from that experience.

One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man from 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 said, “I kept wondering what he might have looked like in a Navy uniform – a Dixie cup hat, a bib in the back, and bell bottom trousers. I wondered how many times I might have passed him on the Kitty Hawk. I wondered 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 had spent on 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. Now, Plumb asks his audience, “Who’s packing your parachute?”

This is a great reminder of the truth that, individually, every Christ-follower is an important member of the body of Christ. Each one of us plays a vital role and without each individual’s contributions, we are all weakened. Someone, recently, has no doubt “packed your parachute” with a word of encouragement, a spiritual insight, a positive role-modeling of the Christian life, or simply by giving you a hand with a task. Today, why not send an e-mail or make a phone call, thanking that person for “packing your parachute”?

GOING DEEPER:
1. How have you “packed someone’s parachute” recently?

2. What can you do today to serve someone else as a demonstration of your faith?

FURTHER READING:
1 Corinthians 12; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 2:13

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Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has over 35 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on Crosswalk.com and Religiontoday.com. Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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