Who's Packing your Parachute?

By: Kristen L. McNulty

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Charles Plumb, 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 at 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 says, "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? Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day" (Source: Charles Plumb).

That same question that Plumb asks his audience, I want to ask each and everyone of you today. Many of us are blessed to have people behind us who is a sense "pack our parachutes". Some, like the man in the story, are not even visible at first glance in our lives. Others are more visible: people like friends, family members, friends from church, our pastors.

No matter how visible they are, today I want to encourage you to do an inventory of your life and find out who these people are. Often we get discouraged because we think we are alone, only to overlook the many people and blessings that God has placed around us.

After doing your quick inventory, I cannot encourage you enough to approach your "parachute packer" and let them know that you notice what they are doing and you appreciative for it. It's very easy to take what others do for granted and I believe that we needed to recongize others when they assist us.

Some may argue that by doing so we are fueling pride, but I think there is a big difference between boosting an ego and providing encouragement and my challenge to all of you today is to provide encouragement to those around you who provide the parachutes in your life.

Maybe that means practically sending a card to a friend or firing off an email to a minsitry leader or even baking cookies for Mom and Dad, whatever it is, take the opportunity to do it because if there is one thing we can never get enough off, it's encouragment.

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This devotional was aired as a part of the Making A Difference Christian Radio Show.