Sunday, April 22, 2018

Invisible Qualities of God

Daily Gratitude Year 6- Day 112: Today, I am grateful for the invisible qualities of God. 

This week, one of the big stories of the week was Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 making an emergency landing with retired Naval jet fighter pilot, Tammie Jo Shults, piloting the crippled plane to a safe landing. 

The story caught my eye or obvious reasons, but then... they noted that she was a graduate of MidAmerica Nazarene College in Olathe, Kansas. I wanted to know more about her. They noted that she had been on campus in the past year speaking to students about having the courage to break gender barriers and reach for their goals. She certainly did.  

MidAmerica Nazarene's director of alumni relations, Kevin Garber, described her in one article as "solid woman of faith". She served in times of war and peace. She continued to serve in the reserves after leaving active duty. She was known for being well prepared and doing any job she did with excellence. As one paper put it, Tammie Jo Shultz was a hero long before Tuesday's landing of the crippled airplane Southwest flight. 

On Tuesday, when one engine blew, the 737 airplane rolled 41 degrees, and the hole in the cabin created more challenges, including injuring one of the passengers resulting in her death. This from NBC news:

"Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said at a news conference Wednesday that when the engine failed, the plane began a "rapid, uncommanded left roll" as steep as 41 degrees. The typical maximum is only about 20 degrees, he said, so "it would be alarming."


One article I read had part of the recording of her conversation with the tower in Philadelphia, requesting the emergency landing. I couldn't find it this morning, but last night I listened to it a couple of times. If will leave you speechless. 

Her calm in the midst of the crisis was astounding, but more than that, it was the peace and hope she was able to pour out on the terrified passengers and crew in the midst of the crisis that was extraordinary. Passengers and crew acted heroically to help the injured. The videos passengers posted from the cabin showed courage and again... an otherworldly calm.

Her calm, I believe, was supernatural. She had the best training the US government could provide, but in the moment... she carried the weight of he crisis on her shoulders. Her co-pilot, the crew and the lives of her passengers she held in her hands. I am pretty sure she was counting on the invisible qualities of a mighty God. 

Here is what Captain Shults brother-in-law, Gary Shults, was quoted as saying, "My brother says she's the best pilot he knows. She's a very caring, giving person who takes care of lots of people," he said.

He conversation with the tower, once permission to land was given, turned to injured passengers. She was very clear with the tower that she needed emergency medical help on the plane as soon as they touched down. She spoke with a confidence that never wavered as to whether or not she would safely land the plane. Her first concern were those in need of medical attention. Passengers said Captain Shults walked through hugging and speaking to passengers before they exited.  

The NYTimes had a good article with evidence of the people of faith on board, beyond the pilot. A few prayers were quoted. Wow! Right? 

"It landed gently at around 11:20, and with whoops and applause, the passengers pulled out their cellphones to text and call their families to report that they were all right." 

Many passengers prayed that day. Some prayed in surrender,,  "Thy will be done." Again, the calmness in the cabin was not of this world. People holding hands, praying, preparing, sending last messages to loved ones, but the panic I expected to see is not there. Those tending the injured did CPR until they landed. 

When reflecting on the story, Tammie Jo Shults, she reminded me of Esther. She was "born for such a time as this". God lead her down a path, prepared the way, went before her and was ultimately with her every step of the way. He was her calm. 

"Be still and know I am God." Psalm 46:10

"For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God." - Romans 1:20

The interior of that plane was for a moment... a piece of holy ground, saturated with the prayers and faith of those inside. There were angels unseen and humans loving their neighbors. Yes... I think it was holy ground. 

Today, I am grateful for the invisible qualities of God. 

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