For One Moment in Time
By now, unless you've been in a commune, you've heard the amazing story of what everyone has rightfully dubbed, "The Miracle on the Hudson": the US Airways plane that within 90 seconds of take-off swallowed a gaggle of geese, lost both engines at the same time, and landed safely on the Hudson River, sparing the lives of more than 150 passengers and crew.
It was truly a miracle.
On Friday night, as I watched Dateline, which devoted its entire hour to the story, one of the reporters kept calling it "luck." "What a great stroke of luck that … In an amazing moment of luck … How lucky for them …" As a believer, I know it wasn't luck. This story has God's fingerprints splashed (pardon the pun!) all over it. But also as a believer I recognize that our God is a big God, so this miracle was par for the course of what he's capable of doing. And the fact that the world witnessed this awesome manifestation of his presence and power in humanity isn't something so difficult for me to comprehend. So while I've discussed the story with my family and friends and we've all praised God for his mercy and obvious answered prayers, I've found myself pondering something else in the story: how and why God used that particular pilot, Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger.
Sully got his pilot's license at 14, and is a former fighter pilot who was named best aviator in his class at the Air Force Academy. He's a certified, experienced glider pilot. And he's investigated air disasters, even studying how airline crews behave in a crisis.
Is it possible, therefore, that God knew 58 years ago (Sully's age) that US Airways flight 1549 was going to struggle and crash-land? Is it possible that God handpicked him before his birth to pilot that plane for that specific moment? I mean, seriously, what are the odds? A fighter pilot (so he has to think quickly in the face of a crisis) who also mastered glide flying and took an interest in air disasters? That's not a fluke or a stroke of luck. That's God orchestrating the scheduling folks at US Airways to pick Captain Sullenberger out of every other US Airways pilot—and there are thousands of them!
It just seems so much like God to do something like that. So then, is it possible that God picked Sully and prepared him over a matter of decades (with the interest and the personality and the training) and shaped him for less than five minutes in time?
He's done it before.
There's Joseph, the dreamer, who was sold into slavery by his brothers and taken to Egypt—which, of course, was all part of the plan to place him in a position of leadership to save the country and the surrounding areas from devastation (Genesis 37, 39-45).
Joseph understood what God was up to and explained it to his brothers when they journeyed to Egypt for food: "I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God" (Genesis 45:4-8).
We know that God chose the prophet Isaiah: "Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the LORD called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name" (Isaiah 49:1).
And of course, as believers we understand that Jesus was prepared through his entire life for that one moment on Good Friday in which he would courageously hang from a cross.
If we see throughout the pages of the Bible that God handpicks and prepares people, is it also possible, then, that he has handpicked each of us for certain moments in time that build our character, that show our courage, and that display the awesome power of God?
After all, the prophet Jeremiah, speaking the words of God, pronounced,"I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11). Obviously he was speaking these words to a specific group of people during a specific time—but those words ring true for all of us who follow him.
Maybe God doesn't handpick all of us for those amazing acts of heroism. I don't know. (But deep down, I believe he does!) One thing I do know for sure: God used Captain Sullenberger during the Miracle on the Hudson. Cameras captured it; journalists have reported it; everyday people from all corners of the world have discussed the event.
Maybe God has picked a moment for me—and for you!—to display heroic courage and strength. It may not be under the watchful eye of the international community. Maybe only God will see it when it happens. But regardless: I want to be ready when he calls.
Do you think God chooses and prepares us for a specific moment in time? Have you ever felt called for a specific moment or event?
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For One Moment in Time
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