... sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. Romans 5:12b
Watch out for that first step. It can be a killer.
That could have been the advice given to United States Air Force Colonel Joe Kittinger on August 16, 1960.
On that day Kittinger stepped out of his capsule at an altitude of 102,800 feet. He fell for four-and-a-half minutes. It was a free-fall record that has remained intact for more than 50 years.
A few weeks ago the news was filled with the story of how an Australian, Felix Baumgartner, had broken some of Kittinger's records and, at the same time, set a new record for speed. Indeed, Baumgartner was the first skydiver to go faster than the speed of sound. And Joe Kittinger? He was the man who had encouraged Baumgartner during five years of planning; his was the voice who spoke to the Australian during his record-breaking free fall.
So there you have it: humankind has a new record for a free fall.
Of course, if you want to see the real record for a fall you won't find it following these fellows.
To find that record, you have to go back to humankind's days in the Garden of Eden. There, in an act of disobedience, we decided to take control of our fate and reject our Creator and the perfection into which He had placed us.
When our original ancestors ate from the forbidden fruit, they took a step which put themselves and all who would come after them into a fall.
But that fall wasn't a free fall.
True, because of our disobedience we were lost and doomed. We had stepped away from heaven and were destined to fall right into the fires of hell. There was nothing we could do to change things, nothing which might make a difference.
And that is where God intervened.
In the Person of His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, a plan was initiated to save us. That plan called for God's Son to become one of us and, through His life, death and resurrection offer Himself as the price that would pull us out of that free fall.
Now with faith in Jesus all who believe are rescued, and their landing is guaranteed to be a safe and eternal one in heaven.
So, while we're talking about records, it's right we remember one that was set by Jesus: the most number of souls saved from a free fall.
It's a record that will never be broken.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, without You I would be lost and forever dying. May I share this wonderful good news with others who -- because of unbelief -- are still caught in a free fall into hell. Use my words and witness to touch them. In Jesus' Name, I ask it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries