Charles Plumb was a U.S. Navy jet pilot in Vietnam. After seventy-five missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface to air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent the next six years in a communist Vietnamese prison.
One day when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man walked up to him from another table and said, “You are Plumb. You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from Kitty Hawk. You were shot down.”
“How in the world did you know that,” Plumb asked.
“I packed your parachute,” the man replied.
Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude.
The man then pumped his hand and said, “I guess it worked.” Plumb assured him it did, and said,” If it had not, I would not be here today.” Plumb could not sleep that night as he thought about the man. Plumb said, “I could not sleep that night wondering what he looked like in a navy uniform. A white hat, a bib, and bell bottom trouser.”
“I wondered how many times I might have seen him and never said, 'Good morning, how are you?' or anything else. You see I was a fighter pilot, and he was just a sailor." Plumb thought of a man standing in front of a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silk of each parachute, holding in his hands the fate of a man he did not know.
Now Plumb asks, who is folding your parachute? Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day and through life. He needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down, physical ones, mental parachutes, relational parachutes, emotional parachutes, and spiritual parachutes. He called on all of them before he reached safety.
Parents, we are parachute packers. We lead and teach, train and pray for our children in order to pack their parachutes and prepare them for life. This is the role of a parent. They will launch from our home into a life they own. The question we must ask ourselves is, "Will they be prepared?"
I often prayed for God to place other godly, wise parachute packers in the lives of my children. He was always faithful! And, as a mom, I also prayed for those who would continue to pack my parachute knowing I had to be taught how to pack their parachutes well. Understanding my children as individuals helped me to know what parachutes they needed. I also realized that understanding culture and the world they lived in was critical to knowing how to best prepare them to survive when they found themselves in enemy territory.
We are in the bowels of the ship working away as our children grow and get closer and closer to the launch. We have 18 years to pack their parachutes. Our hope for our lives and for our children’s future is not placed in the parachute but in the One who whispers to us as we pack. Jesus, The Hope of the World, knows exactly what we, what they, need. Lean in and listen. Pray as you pack, asking God what they need, and trust what He does through the work of your hands and your heart.