I will rejoice in hope, persevere in affliction, and continue steadfastly in prayers. Romans 12:12

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Frankly Phyllis

It's in the Wings!

When US Airways flight 1549, flying from New York to Charlotte, made a successful emergency landing in the Hudson River on January 14, 2009, the world witnessed a "miracle." Through marvelous media coverage, we were privy to information and images unique to the 21st century. Have you ever heard the word "miracle" spoken so many times outside of church? From geese to a kerplunk heard round the world, the miracle could not be denied.

The pilots saw the geese before they hit the plane, which lost power upon impact at an altitude of more than 3,000 feet. Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger III determined within seconds he couldn't land anywhere but in the river. Using every trick up his sleeve, he maintained a good gliding speed (thankfully his extended flaps for lift were already out) and cleared the George Washington Bridge. Cruising at a minimum forward speed resulted in decreased physical forces when the plane touched down on the frigid water. Stunning videos show the cool-headed, clear-minded focus of the pilot and crew and the passengers' equally amazing collective response.

Captain Sullenberger's 40-year career of piloting, which includes military time, is credited with his heroic efforts. Maintaining his calm demeanor even after the landing, he walked up and down the plane twice to be sure no passengers were left behind before he himself exited. Considering the composed and confident responses of the pilot and everyone involved, I find myself learning a great deal from this incredible event.

Rescue boats and ferries were on hand, shuttling people back and forth from the plane and treating the injured. The NYPD and other boat crews were trained for extreme and unusual situations, not knowing when or how a crisis may occur, but always at the ready to face them. To me, these preparatory mechanisms mirror the safeties God has in place for us. Like the crews of those boats who were trained knowing that someday their services might be needed, God knows we need rescuing. He sees where you land in your own situation every single time. He knows when your engines go out. He trains us through life and loss and love to make safe landings in times of peril. When we've made those landings as best as we can, He sends us our own crews to comfort and help us.

The lingering picture for many of us is that of 155 people standing on the wings, barely above the water, waiting for rescue. This reminds me of Malachi 4:2a, which says, "But for you who fear My Name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings." The passengers ventured out onto wings that did not break, despite the weight of so many, to wait for their rescue to arrive.

God provides the ultimate and eternal rescue through His Son, Jesus Christ, whose birth we just celebrated. The question is this: how are you preparing for your own emergency landing? Are you standing on the wings? Are you in over your head? Are you afraid no rescue will come and you will drown in life's frigid waters? Or are you confident and secure in what God has done for you in Christ, with the promise of faith that leads to eternal life, wherever you land? Have your past experiences -- like Captain Sullenberger's -- prepared you to calmly face what is coming, knowing God is there to back you up?

God rescues me when I venture out onto the strong support that is His Word. It's how He leads me to follow the One who walked on the water when He lived on earth. Just as Jesus is recorded in the Bible walking on stormy waters to save the disciples in their boat, He comes to us in our storms. The passengers of the plane could have perished before our very eyes. Instead, they were saved to go on with their lives. We couldn't see God's angels hovering over them, carrying out His will to save, but we can witness the end result. You don't have to see to believe. Trust that God is there for you, right now. His rescue is a miracle with your name on it, even if that miracle doesn't make the evening news. The real miracle is that God saves us -- no matter how we land or how stormy the waters.

For a stunning drawing of the Hudson River miracle, visit the
Sacramento Bee.

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