Daily Devotional for Saturday September 26, 2009
What Do You Do While You are Waiting to Possibly Die
(2 Peter 3:9; 2 Corinthians 6:2)
I will never forget a September evening 3 years ago. I was in bed getting ready for my night's sleep. Because of my crazy schedule, my main sleeping hours each day are from around 7-11 p.m. in the evening. I was flipping though the various cable news stations to catch up on some of the day's news before going to sleep and stopped on MSNBC and their coverage of a problem with a Jet Blue flight from Los Angeles to New York. As I watched this drama unfold over the next several hours with the lives of 139 passengers plus the crew hanging in the balance, I was thinking to myself, what do you do while you are waiting to possibly die?
Jet Blue flight 292 took off from the Burbank Airport for New York's JFK Airport. Shortly after taking off, the pilot became aware that the front landing gear had not retracted properly after take-off, and was not only stuck in the "down" position, but the wheels were turned sideways at a 90-degree angle. After consulting with all of the various mechanics and FAA people, they decided to go into a holding pattern for several hours to burn off most of the fuel since the plane was full in order to make the cross- country flight. After most of the fuel was burned off, they would then make an emergency landing at Los Angeles International Airport since they had the longest runway to attempt such a landing and a full compliment of emergency ground personnel and equipment to handle whatever would happen to the plane and its passengers upon landing.
Over the course of the several hours the plane was in its holding pattern burning off the excess fuel, a plethora of aviation specialists were giving their insight as to the possible scenarios in making the emergency landing. The consensus seemed to be that when the plane landed and the malfunctioning front landing gear hit the runway, it would most likely snap off leaving the plane to skid to a stop with the front part of the plane on its belly. The other real possibility was that because the wheels were locked down at a 90-degree angle, once the front landing gear hit the runway, the plane would jerk hard to the left and possibly flip over. Either way, it was going to be a very dangerous and perilous time when they finally brought this huge Airbus down on the runway.
As the evening unfolded, it was finally time for the emergency landing of the Jet Blue plane at LAX. A whole assortment of emergency and rescue equipment was on hand along with a well-trained group of over 100 brave men and women who train just for these incidents were standing by prepared for whatever may happen. The pilot slowly brought the plane down on the runway on the main landing gears under the wings, keeping the nose of the plane up as long as possible. Finally, the moment came to lower the nose down onto the crippled landing gear.
Instead of the landing gear snapping off as many experts predicted, plumes of smoke came from the tires as they were literally burning up from the friction of being at a 90-degree angle to the direction the plane was heading. With the plane maintaining a perfectly straight line, the tires burned up and the plane was literally rolling down the runway on the metal landing gear that once held the tires in place. With sparks flying for hundreds of yards, the plane finally came to a complete stop in tact with everyone on board safe. It was a perfect landing and the best outcome anyone could have prayed for! The pilot and cockpit crew did a masterful job. No doubt the hand of God was on that plane and those inside.
Throughout this human drama, I thought about the passengers on board this ill-fated flight. One of the unique features of Jet Blue Airlines is that every seat has a miniature television that is hooked into a satellite system so they can watch real time cable programming. In interviews with some passengers after they reached the ground, it was learned that many on board were actually watching the MSNBC coverage of what was happening to their plane. It must have been surreal to be on board this distressed plane, watching the news coverage of what was actually happening to you. So the crew on board and the passengers were fully aware of what was going on, what the experts were saying about the different scenarios that could unfold when they made their emergency landing, and no doubt, death had to be a very real issue each one was contemplating.
One of the points I make often is the fact that tomorrow is promised to none of us. Each day is truly a gift from God. The reality is those people who boarded that flight in Burbank had no other thought other than in a few hours they would be in New York City. People wake up every day and get in their cars, go through their normal daily routines, thinking about what they have to do next, making plans for tomorrow, simply living life. For some, they never get to that next meeting or appointment, for some, there is no tomorrow.
Life is fragile my friend. It is over before we ever expect it to be. That is why we not only need to live each day to its fullest, but make sure that each day we are living for the Lord. When our brief journey through life is over, the only things that will matter for all eternity are those things we did for the Kingdom. Our purpose in this life is to serve and glorify Him. That is why each day we must focus on making sure that in the midst of living our life, we fulfill our purpose by finding ways to serve the Lord throughout the day.
I love you and care about you so much. Events like the Jet Blue flight drive home the reality of how fragile life is, how quick it can be over. I imagine that there were lots of people praying on that airplane. Probably people praying that hadn't prayed in a long time. I hope there was someone bold enough during those long, tense hours while those people were waiting to possibly die, that stood up and shared with the passengers and crew on board that death is not the end and that if they would make the decision to accept Christ into their hearts and life by faith, no matter what happened to that plane they would be in His loving arms for all eternity.
My friend, God's desire is that none be lost, that all come to repentance. As you read these words today I want to ask you if you have the assurance this moment that if you died today you would be forever with Jesus. If you don't have that assurance, if you aren't 100% certain that when you die you will be forever with the Lord, now, this moment, you can settle that issue for all eternity. If you would like to accept Jesus Christ into your heart and life by faith, then pray right now, ask God to open your heart, and go to this link: www.liveprayer.com/bdy_salvatn.html Read the words, pray the prayer, and never doubt again where your eternal home will be!
In closing, let me ask you the question I posed at the beginning. What do you do while you are waiting to possibly die? The reality is, we are ALL waiting to die. Death is an inevitable part of this journey called life. That is why what we do each day is so important. If you don't know Jesus as your Savior, then I would encourage you to pray and seek Him out. He loves you, He died for you, and He wants to have an intimate, personal, and everlasting relationship with you. If you do know Christ as your Savior, then let me encourage you to get busy serving Him. That is what God has called us to do. I know while I am waiting to die, I am doing my best each day to share the Truth of God's Word and the hope and love of Jesus Christ with the hurting and lost in this world What are you doing?
In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ, Bill Keller