He was a soldier stationed at the Army post near where I live. Since I met him at a gathering for injured military personnel and their families, I knew there had to be a story behind why he was there...and so I asked.
It was a simple training exercise that had gone terribly wrong. Being in an airborne unit, parachute jumps were routine for him. He had several under his belt and, today, he prepared to add another one. The plane flew along. He got ready to jump out. When the time came for his turn, he stepped out of the plane and began to drop. He pulled the parachute cord. But something was wrong. He pulled again. Still nothing. The ground was coming at him far too quickly. He tried to think fast. As the tree line was fast approaching, he realized that he might be about to meet his death. "God," he said out loud, " You're gonna have to do something real quick here." All he remembers is hitting the ground and blacking out. But, what he doesn't remember is, perhaps, more profound.
He knows that he owes his life to God - after all, he told me, "Since I'm still here, I guess God heard me." Yet, he has also been told of the efforts of his fellow soldiers on his behalf. "From what I'm told, they did a fantastic job getting me help and everything." Miraculously, all that he sustained from the fall were a few broken ribs, a cracked pelvis, and a broken leg.
Haven't we all had times when we felt like we were in free fall? Haven't we all experienced moments when the things we thought were our parachutes didn't deliver, and we thought we saw our impending demise at hand? As we saw the hard fall fast approaching, as we tried to think of anything we could do to save ourselves, what did we turn to, who did we turn to, for help? Did we cry out to God, knowing we were now at His mercy for our very existence? Did we trust that there would be hands to catch us, hands to tend to our wounds, to soothe our pain, even when we were unaware? Did we look for our helpers - for God? for those who care about us?
So often, when our own life comes crashing around us, and we feel like we are holding on by a thread, it is these moments that we learn about trust. See, when your parachute (whatever it is you put your trust in) has gotten you safely down many times before, you think you can check off one more jump in life. No big deal. But, when it fails you, when you're at your wits' end as to what to do to stop your fall, suddenly, you have to trust in something beyond yourself. You can do nothing to stop the hard crash. To perhaps stop you from your own death. The hands that stand ready to catch you - the God that is ready to hear your cry for help, the loving arms of your fellow soldiers in life - they wait to come to your aid. But you must trust in them to be there. Your fall may still come, but it can be eased by the help of others.
Trusting in these sources of assistance, especially that of God, is what eases the impact when our parachutes fail to open. And, like the soldier I met, turning to God, believing in His ability to save, and trusting in the care of those around you, can make all the difference in the world.