I hung over the Amazon jungle intent on finding my destination, worried about a weather change, calculating fuel left in the tanks, and wondering if my passengers there would be ready. Hung? As in suspended? How many hours had I flown that way without ever considering just what, exactly, held me up? To what did I owe the difference between hurtling destruction and lofty perspective?
Four bolts. Two on each side connect the wing to the airplane’s fuselage. Technically known as an NAS464P8A27, each one measures 2 ¾ inches long by ½” in diameter–– about the size of my ring finger––and weighs 2 ⅝ ounces. My life and the lives of my passengers hung on 10 ½ ounces of steel. That’s it. Or not…
Turns out I owed my life to dozens, perhaps hundreds of people whom I never met. Didn’t even know their names. Folks like the miners who dug up the iron ore. Or the smelters who concocted the right steel alloy. Or the manufacturer who used that special alloy to make the bolt. Or the hardware engineer who designed the bolt. Or the aircraft engineer who chose a bolt that ensured the wing remained attached during flight. Or the distributor who purchased certified bolts rather than cheaper knock-offs to fulfill the factory’s order. Or the assembly line worker who installed them. Or the inspector who double-checked. Or the mechanics who, when reinstalling the wings after maintenance, properly tightened those correct bolts. I knew I couldn’t design bolts nor was I an engineer. I couldn’t fly by myself nor was I a bird. Instead, hanging a mile above the world’s largest jungle, I chose to acknowledge my dependence upon someone else for what I could neither do nor be.
It was like the rest of life; apart from the Lord I could do nothing, but when he strengthened me, I could do anything—even fly. As I started my descent to the jungle airstrip, thanks was all I could give to Jesus, and those he used, for suspending me safely in life and among the clouds.