Ever feel like the flight you’re on is going down?

Ever feel like the flight you’re on is going down? Karen and I just returned from two weeks in Europe—taping a Waldenses documentary (for the Andrews University School of Architecture) in Torre Pellice, Italy, and celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary in Grindelwald, Switzerland. After the recent Air France Flight 447 tragedy, travelers are even more sensitive to the possibilities of midair trouble. But our overnight flight to Europe was uneventful—until about five minutes before landing in Frankfurt, Germany—when there was a loud explosion near where we were seated, two rows up and on the opposite side. The explosion was followed by a loud roaring sound that only grew louder as we flew. Suddenly yellow pieces of insulation began shooting up from the aircraft wall into the cabin. A couple passengers jumped from their seats and fled to the other side. And we all began coughing from the insulation in the air. I don’t mind admitting it was a scary time. Your mind and heart are racing over the unknown. Is it a fire, or did a hole blow in the side of the Boeing 777? Naturally we were praying. The flight attendant on our side was yelling that her intercom was cut off. And I’m quietly thinking that this flight isn’t going to make it to the airport. But all the while there was no erratic movement of the plane. And eventually the loud roaring sound quieted away. Only coughing now.

You can understand the relief in the air was palpable when the wheels finally touched down and passengers began applauding. Soon the copilot came on the intercom and in the great understatement of our flight announced: “Some of you may have heard a sound in the rear of the plane . . .” He informed us that one of the hydraulic lines running down the side of the aircraft had burst open, spewing insulation into the cabin. We have no idea where the line ran to—but praise God it apparently wasn’t to the wings or tail flaps. We were safe—hallelujah!

Moral of the story—we must never take for granted our prayers for each other’s safety. Life is an uncharted flight at best. And while God is the pilot (like the sign in front of the church said, “If God is your copilot, you’re in the wrong seat!”), life can still be unpredictable. And uncertain. Hence our need of each other’s prayers. In that regard I solicit yours as I begin a writing sabbatical, to finish a 366-page devotional book for the Review and Herald Publishing Association that I began last summer. Eight months of devotional readings are now written, leaving me to write the four months of September through December over the next four weeks. So please claim Philippians 1:6 on my behalf—“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” And that, by the way, will be one flight guaranteed not to go down . . but up forever and ever. Amen.

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