Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 7:24-25
It was something I thought I would never see. From 1977 to 1980 my wife Judy and I were stationed with the Air Force in Germany. I have said it so many times but it was a great time. We were young, still newly married and had the opportunity to see and experience so much of Europe. It was good duty too. I was assigned to a small base and provided administrative support for one of the flying squadrons. We flew the OV-10—a twin engine forward air control aircraft. There weren’t many enlisted guys in the squadron and the pilots treated us like family.
Obviously safety, and in particular flight safety, was always a big deal. I remember right before I left to come back to the States we were on a long streak of accident free flying. The commander was also due to rotate back to the States in just a couple of weeks. He said, “The best gift you guys can give me is to remain accident free.” A couple of days later, however, one of our planes crashed.
What I thought I would never see, and certainly didn’t want to see, was another crash. One day, I was standing in my office talking to one of the pilots about who knows what. I was looking out the window as we chatted and saw an aircraft, not one of ours but a F-4 fighter jet, literally falling out of the sky. I blurted out to the pilot I was talking to, “That plane is going to crash.” I remember his response to this day, “That’s not something to joke about.” I wasn’t joking. Less than half a mile from where we were this massive fighter aircraft did literally fall from the sky. The pilot ejected but sadly did not survive. It was devastating. I can still see the explosion in my mind.
As it turns out the plane wasn’t trying to land and where he crashed had nothing to do with our base. He was flying over the area, lost airworthiness, and went into what is called a flat spin. When this happens, planes can lose their lift and they crash. You see, to stay in the air, planes have to have the lift provided by forward movement and air moving in and around their wings. When that doesn’t happen, planes fall from the sky.
It not only happens to planes…it happens to people…like me…like you. At the beginning of this year, I did the healthy thing. I began eating right, checking my sugar levels, and exercising five or six times a week. The results came quickly and were amazing. After three months I had my blood checked and the results were what my physician called, “beautiful.” Literally every critical number was in the normal range. It was amazing…it was awesome. And then, I lost my lift.
The best I can tell my success began my downfall. After winning so big, I wasn’t sure what was next. It was like the day after Christmas. The win was in the bag and I lost my drive to keep on winning. Over the last month or so I returned to my poor eating habits and slowly, or perhaps not so slowly, things began to change…for the worse. The only win is that I am still exercising. Like I said, “When you lose your lift…you crash.”
I was thinking about this before I began writing this morning and decided I really should share my story. Maybe I can help keep someone from crashing. And, it really doesn’t have to be about health…it can be anything. The bottom line is when we lose our momentum, our drive, our lift in any area of our lives—spiritually, emotionally or physically—we are in danger of crashing. Marriages can go south, God can become a distant relative and we can become emotionally disconnected. We need to be careful.
Paul, the guy who wrote a chunk of what we call the New Testament, knew about losing lift and I think he knew about crashing too. He asked the question, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” Can you identify with that question? Honestly, I can. But it is the answer that gives me hope. It is the answer that can give you hope. He writes, “Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Bam! There you go. The answer is our faith and trust in Jesus.
I’m glad he didn’t just say to try harder or maybe pull yourself up by your bootstraps. I’m glad he confirmed what I know and what you might know. The answer is Jesus. He doesn’t just limit His help to obvious God stuff—He is there always and in every way. So, here’s the deal. I’m not going to throw in the towel and I hope you won’t either. I may fall a little further but I won’t stay down. And, regardless, He loves me, when I get it right and when I don’t. And no matter what, spiritually, emotionally, or physically He goes with He—never condemning and always encouraging. I like that. It’s good to know that, “He’s got this.”