At cruise power, a Cessna 206 engine piston races the length of its cylinder 75 times a second. An hour’s flight slams it through 276 thousand cycles, each stroke pealing a few atoms off the piston rings. After a few hundred hours, the gap between piston and cylinder wall grows. Oil seeps by. Burning fuel blows through the space, so less of it pushes the cylinder down. The propeller turns with reduced force, thrusting back less air. The airplane accelerates more slowly, lifts off the runway later, climbs shallower, and clears the trees by a smaller margin. It reaches altitude later, cruises slower, takes longer to reach the destination and burns more gas.
At home base the pilot complains of less power, so the mechanic schedules an early inspection. Sure enough, he finds the piston rings worn beyond specified limits and grounds the aircraft for repair, revealing a natural truth.
Creation runs down. Clothes fray. Paint fades. Metal rusts. Mountains crumble. Stars burn out. Death reigns over our universe, claims everything––even aircraft engines. That’s why all successful flight operations rest solidly on good maintenance. Without that footing airplanes would quickly turn into jungle wrecks or museum displays.
Fortunately, maintenance, glamorous flying’s plain sister, functions a bit like the church. Pastors fight Satan’s plot to steal, kill and destroy. That frees God’s people to do the work of the ministry. Aircraft mechanics battle creation’s disintegration, wear and decay. That grants pilots safe airplanes for their assigned ministry. When the Lord returns to free creation from the curse, life won’t require maintenance. In the meantime, preachers and mechanics both administer various forms of God’s grace that sustains all things “by His powerful Word” (Hebrews 1:3).