“The lowly will be exalted and the exalted will be brought low.” – Ezekiel 21:26
Charlie Plumb was a fighter pilot in the U.S Navy when on his seventy-fifth combat mission his plane was shot down over North Vietnam. Able to eject, Plumb parachuted safely to the ground only to be captured by the North Vietnamese, after which he spent the next six years as a prisoner of war in a solitary eight-by-eight cell where he was constantly subjected to interrogation, torture and beatings.
Several years following his release, Plumb happened to be sitting in a restaurant one evening when he noticed a gentleman staring at him. Eventually the man came over to Plumb’s table. Your name’s Plumb, he said. Plumb acknowledged he was. You were a fighter pilot in the Navy, the man continued, on the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. Later you were shot down over North Vietnam and captured. All true, Plumb confirmed, but how did he know all that, he asked? “I packed your parachute,” replied the stranger.
Overwhelmed with humility, Plumb wondered how many times he had passed by that young sailor aboard the Kitty Hawk never once even acknowledging his existence. Why would he, after all? Plumb, you see, was an officer in the United States Navy, a fighter pilot, and a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Navel Academy. That young sailor was just a lowly enlisted man assigned to some menial job down in the bowels of the ship – except that one day that sailor’s “menial” work would save Plumb’s life.
Imagine a Mercedes Benz automobile, as my friend Jacques likes to say, that costs a hundred-thousand-dollars. Yet, he points out, the car cannot function without a battery which maybe costs a couple hundred dollars. But neither can the battery deliver the energy required to start the car were it not for a small cable connecting it to the starter, a part with a value of maybe two dollars. Without it, though, the Mercedes is useless.
Often it’s not about doing great things that matters nearly so much as doing small things that add up to make a great difference. I wonder who the parachute packers have been in my life, and how many I’ve passed by without acknowledging? And whose parachute have I packed lately, or when have I been a two-dollar cable connecting one important part to another? “The lowly will be exalted and the exalted will be brought low.”