May 11, 2010

A new perspective

The crowd was so immense something had to be done. As he looked over the crowd, Jaçques Charles made a decision. It was too risky. So during the night of August 26th, under the cover of darkness, he relocated the globe to a grassy knoll two miles away. When anxious citizens awoke the next morning, they hurried to the new site and then became witnesses to an event that changed the course of history. The year was 1783. The site was Champ de Mars in Paris, France. The object? The very first hydrogen balloon flight.


The experiment had been conceived by the French scientist. A few years earlier it was discovered how hydrogen could be harvested. It was Charles who conceived of the idea of putting the hydrogen into a big balloon composed of rubberized silk. The hydrogen gas was produced by pouring sulfuric acid over scrap iron and venting the fumes into the balloon. “The Globe” was a landmark achievement in human ingenuity. It’s too bad no one bothered to tell the locals. After the balloon traveled 15 miles reaching an altitude of 3000 feet, it landed in a farmer’s field where the villagers attacked it with pitchforks and knives.


The race was on. A month later, the Montgolfier brothers launched a balloon made of paper and cloth. This one carried a sheep, a duck and a rooster. After rising to 6000 feet, the balloon landed safely. Then, on November 21st, 1783, the first manned flight took place. The balloon left the center of Paris, rose to 500 feet, and landed 6 miles away. Once again the local farmers were very suspicious of this strange craft. But when the pilots emerged they offered champagne to the farmers to ease their fears. The practice still survives to this day.


For the whole course of history the idea of flying has intrigued man. The Greeks believed that Icarus tried it once, but getting too close to the sun, his wax melted and he fell to his death. For a long time afterwards, people believed that flying was better left to birds. Da Vinci awoke the dream as he sketched flying machines but the technology wouldn’t work and flight was still hundreds of years away. It wasn’t until that wonderful day in France 127 years ago that the first human experienced flight. (OK, we could get into a theological discussion here about Jesus and Elijah, but I’m talking about flight by man’s ingenuity). The cool thing about flight is it gave us a whole new perspective on the earth. From the vantage point of thousands of feet, the world looks a whole lot different. It changes everything.


Some day you and I will leave this world and enter into a new heaven and earth with Jesus. The blinders of human frailty will be lifted. We’ll see clearly, once and for all, the incredible plan that God laid out before the foundation of the earth. It may take an eternity to see the majesty and glory of it. But that will be OK because we’ll have an eternity to do it.




Pastor David Hook



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