Friday, June 22, 2007

Parachutes and Perspectives

Recently I've been thinking quite a bit about Perspective. A good many years ago now, (I'm increasingly alarmed at the rate in which time flies), our Pastor and friend Greg Makcen shared an illustration with us. At the time, we had never heard of the speaker, Ray Comfort. Now we are quite familiar with his work and teachings with a program called "The Way of the Master". I wanted to share that illustration with you, as it relates to Perspective.

It is the tale of a man who boards a plane. Crowded with other passengers. The man settles into his seat, and the plane takes off for its intended destination. Presently, a flight attendant comes to the man with a parachute in her hands. "Sir, please put on this parachute. We want your flight to be most enjoyable, and if you will just put this on, your will flight will be easier and more comfortable, with no problems to worry about!" So of course, the passenger obliges. After all, who wouldn't want an easier, more enjoyable flight? After a short time, however, the man notices that everyone is laughing at him. He can't sit all the way back in his seat, for the parachute pack is secured to his back. People are pointing. He feels ridiculous. His flight isn't more comfortable! He isn't having an easier time! Finally, in disgust, he yanks the parachute straps from off his shoulders, throws the parachute onto the floor, stomps on it, and declares with finality that he will NEVER put on another parachute as long as he lives.
In Contrast, let's take the same story. Man boards plane. Flight attendant approaches. This time, she says, "Sir, QUICKLY put this parachute on. At any moment this plane could go down, and you will have to jump from the plane. PUT ON THE PARACHUTE!" Of course, the passenger obliges. He secures the parachute to his back. He can't sit all the way back. He is indeed uncomfortable. People point to him and laugh. He looks ridiculous sitting in his seat with a parachute on. He pays it no mind, however, because he KNOWS that at any moment that parachute will save his life. It matters not that it is uncomfortable, unfashionable, and seems unnecessary to others. In fact, let's even suppose that a flight attendant walks past him and spills hot coffee all over him. Would he then become angry at the parachute and throw it off in disgust? No! Still, he gladly embraces the parachute.
This is an illustration of the fallacy of sharing the Gospel with a wrong emphasis. Living a life of Chrisitianity will not ensure your comfort, ease, financial success, or lack of problems and challenges. However, embracing Christ as the only HOPE of your salvation, your only SAVIOR from the wrath that is to come, will change your perspective on how you deal with these issues when they arrive. If you understand this message, you are far less likely to "throw Christ off" when hard times come and turn your back on the message. If you understand this, you only cling harder to your Savior when it's almost time to jump.


This illustration has been on my mind for a couple of weeks now. I have needed a reminder on the importance of my perspective. Not that I've been tempted to throw off Christ, but perhaps to 'feel sorry for myself', when life just isn't producing the results that I had hoped for in certain areas. To that end, there is a song that has been continually bringing me to a place of re-focusing. I have not arrived at the place in my life spiritually where I want to be, regarding areas of de-railment and disappointment. An attitude of PRAISE ANYWAY is what I'm endeavoring to cultivate. Someday I hope it is just second nature. In the meantime, I need focus-shifters like this one:

"How Can I Keep From Singing"

There is an endless song
Echoes in my soul
I hear the music ring

And though the storms may come
I am holding on
To the rock I cling

How can I keep from singing Your praise
How can I ever say enough
How amazing is Your love
How can I keep from shouting Your name
I know I am loved by the King
And it makes my heart want to sing

I will lift my eyes
In the darkest night
For I know my Savior lives

And I will walk with You
Knowing You'll see me through
And sing the songs You give

I can sing in the troubled times
Sing when I win
I can sing when I lose my step
And fall down again
I can sing 'cause You pick me up
Sing 'cause You're there
I can sing 'cause You hear me, Lord
When I call to You in prayer
I can sing with my last breath
Sing for I know
That I'll sing with the angels
And the saints around the throne



jody j said...

Great post. Made me think.

Sonja said...

How true, my friend. Perspective can change everything. I love that illustration. I've heard it before, but it is a good reminder. May our emphases always be correct. May we never forget the reality of eternity and what happens when we get there. And may we also never forget that, as children of God, our momentary afflictions now are NOTHING compared to the glory that awaits us (St. Paul). Wow! Truly, how can we keep from singing!!

Kimberly said...

My heart is touched and I wish we were closer! I will say it again...perspective is EVERYTHING! And there are so many forces attempting to confuse our vision of what and who matters. Had not heard this illustration, and frankly, often I brace myself for the point when God is "blamed" for the storm...never had to hear it in this one, thankfully. SO THANKFUL that He is walking w/me and someday these "Trials will seem Nothing!" But maybe I'll be allowed to hum even if i'm not up to singing. Love Ya!

Tara said...

Know what you mean about bracing for the part of an illustration that insults your intelligence. Guess what I like about this one is it helps make sense of why people often 'come to Christ' (cliche'), and then somewhere down the road, they are disgusted with the church or with the lack of troubles in their lives. I think the Gospel is being presented so much these days as, well, the "Gospel of Self-Enhancment" as our pastor puts it. No wonder disenchantment sets in so early. Alternatively, if you know this world is a temporary place, and fraught with heartache and trouble, it makes more sense to hold on to the ONE PERSON who can actually deliver you from it all one day. I know you and Sonja can speak more directly to issues of real trial more than I can. I know you have found ways to hold to Him, even when it surely has not been easy.

Now you've got me humming, along with Ann Baldwin "the toils of the road will seem nothing...when I get to the end of the way"! Do ya think that's really the way it will be?!?

Toots said...

Appreciate your post, Tara. That old song, "When I Get To The End of the Way" is one of my favorites from childhood. I love it! Thanks for reminding me of it. I think that just the fact that you are seeking to keep walking the path, recognizing along the way how much you (we all) need His help and care, as well as the love and support of His children, that's reason to sing! We're all in this together! That's such an encouragement to me!

Josh said...

Hey Tara!

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I just started and so it's taking me a bit to figure it all out, but yes I do remember Hobe Sound Camp and all the rest! You'll have to post your thoughts about the "The Regan Diaries," I've heard good things about the book, and from Helen Thomas at that =)


kayla said...

I never posted anything about it, but I was thinking much on the same line when I had the lyrics of "Held" on my blog. Thanks again for the reminder of the importance of keeping everything in perspective.

Kelly S said...

This was so beautifully said Tara! Thanks for the great reminder. It's not always easy to have the "praise anyway" attitude - especially for me right now. But, I too am working toward that goal (slowly but surely?!)

~Heather~ said...

That was a very good post, Tara! I enjoyed reading it, and probably needed it's reminder too! The devil wants us to get so wrapped up in the here and now, to where we could easily throw off our "parachute" (Jesus)...or just not have it SECURILY fastened...but I soooo want to be ready for Christ's coming, and to take others with me to Heaven.

Love, Heather =)

Making Memories 1999 said...

That was a great illustration on perspective!! I don't think I've heard it before. Thanks for sharing it!! Dittos on the "perspective is everything" remarks!! Oh, to keep that perspective upward. Thanks for a great reminder!!!

Juwah said...

Hola Friend;

I too, enjoyed your post. It is always a helpful reminder to keep an eternal perspective. Thanks for my reminder today. I echo Laura on the comfort that also comes from knowing we are not on this journey alone. You are in my thoughts and prayers today.

Kimberly said...

I do hope and pray that will be how it is in Heaven! Our eyes will be clear and open!

btw, I am still having to "highlight" to see your writing..not sure why?! hope you're having a good week and thinkin up a good new blog:)
(but no pressure or anything!)

julie f said...


I'm finally back after a month or so of busyness and adjustments (I'm sure you know what that is like...). I really enjoy your blog and your thoughts on things. I don't think I ever got to know you very well (aren't you a few years younger?) but I so remember being a lonely girl on quartet tour and seeing a very friendly face. Thanks for your hospitality and cheering me up in Westfield, Indiana! I'll never forget it!

I wanted to just comment a little on your recommendations. There are several on there that I love as well: American Girl Books, Weiss CD's, Captivating - I am in a book club now that is reading it. I'm finding it enlightening in a lot of ways. I really want to find the book about Homeschooling by the Cards and "Santuary". Is it you that was reading "Created to be His Helpmeet"? What did you think?

Thanks for all the good seems like life is getting sane again and I am going to try to find time to read more. Your recomm. have inspired me!

jenny said...

Ditto to Julie's sentiments on reading and how you've inspired me to want to read more as well. I actually have been making it through the Well Educated Mind (On Ch. 6, autobiography). But I must confess the thought of reading all of these books (in chronological order, as she suggests) seems way more than daunting. So, recognizing I will never be well educated (!) I'm continuing on to struggle for at least a better education.

Cara was the first one to introduce me to these books, followed by a recent new friend at church. Then one day I came across some comments you'd made about the book and it really was the spark to set me off into "serious" reading mode. (serious being in quotes because it's still pretty slow progress)

Now, to comment on your actual post...I liked the story a lot. Perspective is so important but so easily lost, especially when challenged. I'd love to hear the Tomlin song as well...great, great lyrics.

Kelly S said...

Hey Tara. Where are you??! I've missed you! I hope you're well.

Tara said...

Hiya, friends and neighbors...
I've been on vacation this last week. We went to D.C. and Gettysburg; enjoyed the time together as a family, and I must say that almost as much as anything I enjoyed the drastic change of scenery. I've never been much of a 'mountain' girl, but I sure did recognize and enjoy the immense beauty I saw this last week. I'll have pics and stuff later after I catch up on the laundry and stuff that awaits me now that I'm home!
Thanks for all of the encouraging comments on this post. It's always good to hear from you, my 'regulars' (!), and even some less frequent visitors as well! I will enjoy getting caught up with all of you and delighting in the exchange of ideas and information that's always so edifying!

Toodles for now!