Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us. 2 Timothy 1:13-14
On Thursday, September 3, 1987, the CBS Evening News told the story of an airplane accident, which took place near Portland, Maine.
On that day, Henry Dempsey was captain of the Eastern Express commuter flight from Lewiston, Maine, to Boston. Flying at an altitude of 4,000 feet, Captain Dempsey thought he heard an unusual noise that seemed to be coming from the rear of the 15-passenger turboprop plane. Dempsey turned the controls over to his second-in-command and went back to check things out. He made it to the aircraft's tail section when the plane hit an air pocket.
The jolt of the plane threw pilot Dempsey against the rear door of the aircraft, which hadn't been properly secured. The door flew open and Dempsey was sucked out over the ocean. When the captain didn't return and a light said the rear door was open, the co-pilot guessed the worst and radioed for permission to make an emergency landing. He also asked that a search be made for the captain.
The search wasn't necessary. As the plane's door came open and the ladder flipped down, Captain Dempsey managed to grab hold of the railing. He held on to that railing for dear life. He held on as the plane made its way to a landing; he held on during the descent; he held on when the plane raced down the runway.
Soon rescue workers arrived and told the captain he was safe. They also said, "You can let go of the railing now." Not entirely surprisingly, Captain Dempsey couldn't let go. It took more than 15 minutes for rescue workers to pry his hands from that rail.
I guess most of us, put in the life-and-death situation that faced Captain Dempsey, would hold on just as tightly as he did. In such a situation, holding on is the only reasonable, rational, thing to do.
That's true when you're being sucked out of a plane, and it's true whenever your physical or eternal life is in danger. Unfortunately, most people approach eternity with a cavalier attitude. That is not only dangerous, it is inviting death.
"Hold fast." That is what St. Paul urged Timothy to do. It is what he wants all believers to do. Paul knew that there were many false prophets, many foolish doctrines, many forged philosophies trying to woo God's people away from the Savior. Some of these alternative truths sounded good; they sounded real good. Even so, in reality, they offered nothing of substance to save.
It is only through Jesus Christ and His blood-bought forgiveness and salvation that anyone can be adopted into the family of faith and brought safely to their heavenly home. It is only when they hold fast to the Good Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep they can be saved.
That is why this devotion ends with this encouragement: like Captain Dempsey held fast to that railing, you hold fast to the Savior. It is the only smart, the only saving thing to do.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, I give thanks that by the Holy Spirit's power I have had saving faith placed within me. Now give me the tenacity and the determination to hold fast to Jesus who alone can forgive sins and bring forgiven souls to their home in heaven. In Your 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