Ranked among the luckiest people in the world, Alan E. Magee survived a free fall of almost 22,000 feet from a B-17 bomber during a raid in WWII. On 3rd January 1943, Magee got into a Flying Fortress bomber on his seventh bombing mission. He was 24, and was one of the ten-man crew of the bomber. They took off from Molesworth, England, and their target was a German submarine port in France. In total, there were 85 B-17s involved in the raid, along with some fighter planes escorting them.
When Magee’s B-17 reached the French town of St Nazaire, it came under heavy fire from German anti-aircraft guns. The bomber took a couple of nasty blows on its wing and engine.It soon started spiralling downward towards the ground and was spinning at a very high rate of speed. Magee had no idea how to control the plane but he did see a small opening, which he quickly jumped through. Once in mid air, he realized he had actually jumped out of the plane… but without his parachute!
Magee plunged almost 22,000 feet, and went unconscious just before his body crashed onto the roof of the St Nazaire railway station. The thick clothes he wore and his hit on the soft wooden roof between the rafters cushioned his 160 mph fall and he landed on his back in a pile of shingles, wood splinters and boxes on the station floor. He regained consciousness, as the Germans were taking him to the hospital. His only words were, ‘Thank God I am alive.” His only injury was a sprained shoulder and bruises on his back and legs.
Magee was only willing to tell his story a total of 3 times during the rest of his life. He was an intensely private man and looked at his escape from certain death as a miracle from God. He said that even his German captors treated him with great respect, knowing the details of what had happened to him. During one of the interviews he gave, Magee was asked what went through his mind as he was falling towards the earth without a parachute. Magee simply said he was strangely at peace because he knew he was in God’s hands, stating, “In a situation like that what else can you do? ”
When asked, doctors said the one big thing that saved his life was the fact that he was totally relaxed when he hit the roof. Had he been awake, his natural reaction would have been to tense up and brace for impact, which would have killed him instantly. However, in his relaxed state his body acted like a fluid and was able to distribute the shock of impact across his entire body. That dynamic capacity of fluids to dissipate shock waves is one of the things that spared his life.
Few of us, if any, will ever find ourselves in the situation Alan Magee was in. Helpless, hopeless and plunging into certain death in a few short minutes. However, all of us will find ourselves in situations where we are forced to rely on something outside ourselves and outside our own ability. When life gets totally out of our control, what then? The loss of a job, the rebellion of a child, a divorce or a sudden life threatening illness can feel like a deadly plunge. All of these can take over our lives and emotions rather quickly , with no good end in sight. What we do, and how we respond in those times, will determine to a large degree what the final outcome will be.
Let me suggest that what you need to do in such situations is relax and put it in God’s hands. Stop trying to figure things out or second-guess how you got in the situation in the first place. Does it really even matter once you’re in it? Worse than that , all the wasted energy, agonizing thoughts and what-if’s don’t change a thing. Do what Alan Magee did and surrender to the inevitable, be at peace within and wait till it’s over.
Ps 46:10 says “Be still and know that I am God” and Proverbs 3:5-6 says ” Lean not to your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths”. When all is said and done, it’s in God’s hands and you can count on the fact that He will cause all things to work for the good. Stop the manipulation, the fussing and the striving to make things go your way. You only see in part anyway, and God sees the whole picture from beginning to end. Like it or not, He has the upper hand!
So, why not tune your heart to God, enjoy the view, relax and just go with the flow. When it’s over, God will have those ready who can pick up the pieces. And you? Well, ….. you will have a great story to tell about the faithfulness of God! Now go enjoy your free-fall and take in the view. Enjoy the process because it will soon be over and, like it or not, you are sure to have your answer!