It was in 1968 on an airplane headed for New York—a routine and normally very boring flight. But this time it proved to be otherwise. As the plane was on its descent pattern, the pilot realized that the landing gear was not engaging. Passengers were told to place their heads between their knees and grab their ankles just before impact.
Then, with the landing only minutes away, the pilot suddenly announced over the intercom: "We are beginning our final descent. At this moment, in accordance with International Aviation Codes established at Geneva, it is my obligation to inform you that if you believe in God you should commence prayer." Scout's honour...that's exactly what he said!
I'm happy to report that the belly landing occurred without a hitch. No one was injured and, aside from some rather extensive damage to the plane, the airline hardly remembered the incident.
Amazing. The only thing that brought out into the open a deep down "secret rule" was crisis. Pushed to the brink, back to the wall, right up to the wire, all escape routes closed...only then does our society crack open a hint of recognition that God may be there and—"if you believe...you should commence prayer."
There's nothing like crisis to expose the otherwise hidden truth of the soul. Any soul. We may mask it, ignore it, pass it off with cool sophistication and intellectual denial...but take away the cushion of comfort, remove the shield of safety, interject the threat of death without the presence of people to take the panic out of the moment, and it's fairly certain most in the ranks of humanity "commence prayer."
Remember Alexander Solzhenitzyn's admission? "It was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good.... So bless you, prison, for having been in my life."
Those words provide a perfect illustration of the psalmist's instruction: "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.... It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees" (Psalm 119:67, 71 NIV).
After crisis comes, God steps in to comfort and teach.
There's nothing like crisis to expose the hidden truth of the soul.
Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.