Who’s Packing Your Parachute?

It is one of the great questions of all time. It has to do with gratitude: “Who’s packing your parachute?”

Charles Plumb is a motivational speaker who speaks to a wide audience around the world.

He wasn’t always a motivational speaker. During the Vietnam War he was a fighter pilot who flew seventy-five missions off the USS Kitty Hawk. He was shot down over Vietnam and spent six grueling years as a POW in Hanoi.

You may have heard his famous story of what happened after his return. He was eating dinner at a restaurant in Kansas City with his wife when a man two tables over kept staring at him. Finally, the man came by and said: “You’re Captain Plumb.”

Charlie Plumb replied: “Yes sir, I’m Captain Plumb.”

The man said: “You flew jet fighters in Vietnam. You were on the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down. You parachuted into enemy hands and spent six years as a prisoner of war.”

The man astounded Charlie Plumb with his recognition and the details about his life. He asked the man how he knew who he was and so much about him. The man replied: “Because, I packed your parachute.”

That night Charlie Plumb could not sleep for thinking about the unnamed and unthanked sailor who saved his life. In those days airmen didn’t have much to do with sailors. Plumb couldn’t help but think that this man had saved his life without any appreciation.

“I wondered how many times I might have seen him and not ever said ‘good morning,’ ‘how are you,’ or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor. How many hours did he spend on that long wooden table in the bowels of that ship weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of those chutes? I could have cared less . . .until one day my parachute came along and he packed it for me.”

Today Charlie Plumb asks audiences: “Who is packing your parachute?”

Let me ask you: “Who do you need to thank? Who is providing service to you? Who is working hard with little recognition? Who are the special people in your life who provide the encouragement you need when the chips are down?”

May you and I learn to give thanks to those who have helped and blessed us through the years.

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9 Responses

  1. Your post this morning reminds me of a question I ran across a few days ago that said something like” What if you woke up this morning with only the things you had thanked God for yesterday?” Making you realize it might not be much since you didn’t thank Him for very much. Thank God for the people that work behind the scenes that affect our lives and are not always the subject of our attention. Thanks Pastor.

  2. What a great story. I forwarded it to as many of my friends and family that have blessed me and stood by me. I just wish my Chihuahuas had email addresses! They always have my back! LOL

  3. Your post really makes me think of all the people in my life who have helped me and encouraged me when I felt like my world may be falling apart. I’m going to start by thanking you and Martha for all the times you have been there for me. Your sermons, Bible studies and friendship have meant so much to me and I want to thank both of you for the encouragement you have given me through the years. There are others in my life who need to be thanked also. For some, it is too late because they have already gone to be with our Lord, but I am going to make it a priority in the coming year to give thanks to those who affect my life even in ways that are not always obvious. Thank you for this reminder!

  4. Great word!!! Thanks for continuing to impact my life and challenge me to learn after knowing you 25 years. I love your blog and will recommend it to others. Running across your site today rekindled many great memories of Old Testament and Hebrew at NOBTS many years ago.

  5. Thanks to all of you for your comments. Charlie Plumb’s story and emphasis touched me as well. We must recognize that “no man is an island.” We need each other.

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