A Trip To Eternity
Except for the loved ones directly involved, how easily we forget the lingering sorrow and hurt experienced by so many in our modern times as a result of multiplied tragedies throughout the world.
It was almost a year ago, the exact date having been November 28, 1979, just one day before the 50th anniversary of U.S. Admiral Richard E. Byrd’s historic flight over the South Pole. To help celebrate this significant anniversary, Air New Zealand advertized a tragically apt $340-a-ticket “trip to the end of the world.” For 257 persons, including 21 Americans, who were aboard Air New Zealand’s DC-10, this unusual and spectacular sightseeing flight over Antarctica ended with charred remains of the jet and all its passengers scattered along the frozen side of Mount Erebus, Antarctica’s most active volcano.
Mr. Roy Thomson, the New Zealander who headed the recovery effort, said the DC-10 was not at fault. Instead, Thomson blamed the pilot, who had been with the airlines for 11 years but who was making his first Antarctic flight. Thomson said the pilot was on the wrong side of the 12,400-foot mountain when he descended to give the sightseers a closer look at the smoldering volcano. Apparently having entered some cloud cover in its descent, the jet smashed head-on against the mountain-evidence that the pilot never saw it.
When I first heard and read about this tragedy, I couldn’t help but think of a few spiritual lessons which parallel the account. First, not one person who boarded that plane thought that November 28, 1979, would be his last day on earth. We all have an appointment with God and eternity (Heb. 9:27), and life at best is uncertain and brief. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that we prepare to meet Him (Amos 4:12), and that we do so on His terms, receiving by faith His blessed Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shed His precious blood and died on the cross for our sins. Now is the time to receive Him; tomorrow may be too late. The Bible says, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2).
Second, the pilot thought he was on the right side of the mountain, but he wasn’t. Again, the Word of God declares, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end therefore are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:12).
Third, clouds obviously hid from the pilot’s view the danger toward which they were hurtling. Today, clouds of error confuse and blind the eyes of multitudes, making them utterly unaware of the spiritual disaster soon to overtake them. Therefore, it is not without good reason that the Scriptures, among other things, warn us of “seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1) which pervert the truth and blind the eyes of men and women as to their true condition and circumstance before the living God.
Fourth, we do not live unto ourselves; the decisions we make vitally affect others. The Bible asserts that “none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself” (Rom. 14:7). We should seek above all else to know, do and love God’s will. By so doing we will avoid many snares and pitfalls and not miss His particular plan and purpose for our life. Then when we make our exodus from this world we will leave behind a godly example and influence.
Finally, we must all at one time or another trust our lives to others such as a pilot, a train engineer, a bus driver, or to a friend in whose car we are riding. However, no matter how competent and experienced earth’s “captains” may be, all are imperfect and fallible. In the final analysis the best and most important thing of all in life is to have genuinely placed our faith in the Captain of our salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb. 2:10). Have you done this personally?