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How To Land Safely

I don't fly enough to qualify as a "frequent flyer," but my work as a preacher has resulted in flights that total a few dozens of takeoffs and landings on commercial jet airliners. Most of them have been smooth as silk, and for that I am grateful to the pilots and to the Lord! But one thing I have learned about flying — not all landings are equal! A mission trip to Guyana about a year ago required a connection with a British airline in Miami. When the domestic carrier we were on hit the runway (and I mean "hit") I thought at first we must be riding on a gigantic basketball! The thing hit and bounced off the run before semi-slamming back into it again. The landing was rougher than a piece of coarse sandpaper! As we taxied to the terminal an attendant announced over the intercom for passengers to remain seated until the aircraft came to a complete stop. And then he said we were free to remove our carry-on luggage from the overhead storage compartments, and now I quote, "if you can find them after that landing!"

Where am I going with all this? I want to stir your thinking about what kind of landing you will make. What landing is that? The inescapable landing scheduled for all of us at the end of this life. The landing the Bible calls death. That moment in time, when after flying along for perhaps 30 or 50 or 70 or 80 plus years, we breathe our last breath and, in the words of Scripture, the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7). What kind of landing will you have? Multiplied millions seem to be flying along with little concern about where they are headed and how they will land. The apostle Paul gives us a great model to follow if we want a smooth and safe landing at the end of our trans-life flight, however short or long it is. His familiar words from 2 Timothy 4:6-8 remind us that he had made preparation for a safe landing at the end of this life, and that we can, toc if we love God and serve Him faithfully — For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." Take time to read all of 2 Timothy 4 and you will discover the things Paul's life was about — preaching the Word and spreading the Gospel, fighting the good fight of faith, running the Christian race, keeping the faith as he sought to encourage others toward Heaven — in short living his life for Christ. That's why he could be confident his landing on the other side of death would be smooth. Someone told about a page in "The 365 Stupidest Things Ever Said" calendar that had this amazing entry: "If you bought our course, 'How To Fly In 6 Easy Lessons,' we apologize for any inconvenience caused by our failure to include the last chapter, 'How To Land Your Plane Safely.' Send us your name and address and we will send you the last chapter posthaste." If you want to be with Christ after you die, you must serve Him while you are alive.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ