Tuesday, March 1, 2005
It was February 24, 1989. On a routine flight over the Pacific Ocean, a mammoth United Airlines 747 jetliner suddenly sustained a gigantic tear on its side. The forward cargo door blew out during climb and part of the fuselage and interior also blew out of the aircraft. The sudden decompression of the aircraft ejected nine passengers to their deaths and threatened the lives of the remaining 327 passengers and crew.
When the pilot, Captain David Cronin, was interviewed, after having brought the craft back safely to Honolulu, he was asked, "What did you do when the plane ripped open? How did you cope?"
Captain Cronin solemnly replied, "I prayed, then went to work."
Prayer, in any form - uttered or silent - is the almost-invisible silvery thread that gracefully weaves our simple life together with all those around us, to the world underneath and over us, and to the cosmos beyond us. It is the personal admission that:
Most of the known world's population already admit to the first two conditions, regardless of their particular religion. But it's number 3 that tends to be forgotten at times throughout our rote memorization of nightly prayers and Sunday worship. And I am here to tell you, my friend, that number 3 is the make-or-break of our prayer life and our daily journey.
I can't tell you how many times in my life when the "work" just wasn't enough - I couldn't do enough to salvage or resolve a particular situation on just "work" alone... and I resorted to prayer... and it was the tipping point in so many of those instances. The problem was, however, that I was going about it in the wrong order - work, work work, and then rely on prayer if all else failed.
Captain Cronin may not have realized that he was on to something in his statement. He could have easily tried everything to land the plane and then prayed. But he simply stated, "I prayed...then I went to work." To sanctify all our situations and turmoils and challenges first, and then roll up our sleeves - we find ourselves walking on hallowed ground through most of our daily journey. It is here where number 3 is remembered and respected. And it is here where prayer transcends from simple pleading and begging to the recognition of a partnership that elevates normal daily occurrences to powerful life journeys.
Pray and then go to work. Perhaps then, it may not feel like the daily "grind."
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