How You View a Parachute Makes All the Difference in Whether You’re Grateful for It

Ray Comfort tells a memorable story that illustrates the difference between trusting Christ to make this life more pleasant, and trusting Him to deliver us from Hell so that we can enjoy Heaven with him forever:

Consider the following scenario.

Two men are seated in a plane. The first is given a parachute and told to put it on because it will improve his flight. He is a little skeptical at first; he cannot see how wearing a parachute on board a plane could possibly improve his flight.

After some time, he decides to experiment and see if the claims are true. As he straps the apparatus to his back, he notices the weight of it on his shoulders and he finds he now has difficulty sitting upright. However, he consoles himself with the flight attendant’s promise that the parachute will improve his flight, and he decides to give it a little time.

As the flight progresses, he notices that some of the other passengers are laughing at him because he is wearing a parachute inside the plane. He begins to feel somewhat humiliated. As they continue to laugh and point at him, he can stand it no longer. He sinks in his seat, unstraps the parachute, and throws it to the floor. Disillusionment and bitterness fills his heart because as far as he is concerned, he was told an outright lie.

The second man is also given a parachute, but listen to what he is told. He is told to put it on because at any moment he will have to jump out of the plane at 25,000 feet. He gratefully puts the parachute on. He does not notice the weight of it upon his shoulders, nor is he concerned that he cannot sit upright. His mind is consumed with the thought of what would happen to him if he jumped without the parachute.

Let’s now analyze the motive and the result of each passenger’s experience. The first man’s motive for putting on the parachute was solely to improve his flight. The result of his experience was that he was humiliated by the other passengers, disillusioned, and somewhat embittered against those who gave him the parachute. As far as he is concerned, it will be a long time before anyone gets one of those things on his back again.

The second man put on the parachute solely to survive the jump to come. And because of his knowledge of what would happen to him if he jumped without it, he has a deep-rooted joy and peace in his heart, knowing that he has been saved from certain death. This knowledge gives him the ability to withstand the mockery of the other passengers. His attitude toward those who gave him the parachute is one of heartfelt gratitude.

...Instead of preaching that Jesus will “improve the flight,” we should be warning sinners that one day they will have to jump out of the plane. “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

Ray Comfort, God Has A Wonderful Plan for Your Life: The Myth of the Modern Message (Bellflower, CA: Living Waters Publications, 2010), 69-71.

Photo by Berkay Akbulut on Unsplash

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries