I recently read the last words of the pilot of a cargo jet as it plummeted out of control toward earth crashing and killing the pilot and his copilot. It was chilling to hear him say a moment before impact, “Lord, you have my soul.”
When I heard the pilot’s last words, while fear was surely present, I heard the resolve of someone who knew what would await him after his death. He had done all his training required, but that training could not save him. In seconds He would meet his Lord where his soul would find eternal rest and safety.
In the late 1970s, I remember hearing the testimony of a man who miraculously survived the greatest airplane disaster in history when two 747s collided on a runway in the Canary Islands. 593 people died in that event. Only a few survived. The survivor noted that some fellow passengers while being consumed by flames cursed God. Others worshipped Him knowing the end of their earthly life had come and they would soon enter eternity.
Our predisposition toward God and matters of faith in times of peace and security will determine our response to death and catastrophe when they arrive. The pilot who uttered those haunting words had trained for every conceivable contingency, even the one that took his life. Passengers on the two 747s were briefed by their flight attendants in case an emergency occurred.
Natural preparation does not always save us from disasters or accidents. When the best of our natural preparation fails, the condition of our heart toward God will determine what we say and how we act when death cannot be avoided. It will be the peace of God that will surmount our circumstances and usher us into His presence with the same resolve expressed by the pilot of the cargo jet and the passengers who worshipped God while others cursed His name.
What caused the pilot to commit his soul into the hands of the Lord and what caused people to worship God as the flames of death approached was a personal commitment they made to the Lord each day of their lives that preconditioned them to express the peace of a resurrected life when the flames of death engulfed them. If we are committed to Jesus Christ, we have nothing to fear, even the fear of death.