Pastor Dave has been preaching and teaching for over 40 years. As Senior Pastor of Fellowship Missionary Church in Fort Wayne, IN, his ministry was known for the strength of the pulpit. His love is bringing biblical truths to everyday people in a way that they can understand and put into practice. Today, through Dave DeSelm Ministries, his weekly blog not only helps pastors, but any Christian who desires to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18a).
"But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
One of the most unique planes flown by the U.S. Air Force is the U-2. Flying out of Beale Air Force Base, the “Dragon Lady” is the ultimate high-altitude spy plane.
With a cruising altitude of 70,000 feet (over 13 miles), the U-2 has been in operation for over 50 years. It boasts some of the best pilots in the world.
Quite possibly the most famous U-2 pilot of all time was Francis Gary Powers. On May 1, 1960, Powers took off from his base in Pakistan to fly a reconnaissance mission above the Soviet Union.
This was the height of the Cold War and tensions were high. Both the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. were determined to learn the other country’s secrets.
Because of the altitude the U-2 flew, it was considered immune to Soviet Missiles. But earlier that spring, the Soviets had developed a surface-to-air missile that could reach the high-flying spy planes.
Powers’ plane was hit. The pilot ejected and was captured. Since the U.S. had denied these reconnaissance flights, Powers became front-page news.
He was tried as a spy, convicted, and sentenced to three years in prison and seven years of hard labor. However, two years into his sentence he was released in a prisoner exchange for a Soviet spy.
The former U-2 pilot never lost his love for flying. He went on to serve as a test pilot for some of the most dangerous experimental aircraft. He did so for eight years, outliving nearly all of his dare-devil colleagues.
Yet years later, he lost his life while in the pilot’s seat. Not in a test plane, but in a standard helicopter that he was flying for an LA television station.
The cause of the accident?
His helicopter ran out of gas.
After surviving the U-2 crash, Soviet prison, and thousands of experimental flights, Powers went down…because he ran out of gas.
Fill up the Tank
You don’t have to be a famous pilot to recognize that running on empty is a losing proposition. Eventually, it will take you down if not take you out.
Jesus knew this full well. In the midst of fruitful ministry and knowing His time on earth was limited, the Lord would intentionally walk away from “doing” to engage in “being.”
Luke comments that “…Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Note that word, “often.”
This wasn’t a sporadic practice. This wasn’t a rare discipline. Jesus recognized full well that He couldn’t continue pouring out if He didn’t commit to taking in.
“…JESUS OFTEN WITHDREW TO LONELY PLACES AND PRAYED.” THIS WASN’T A SPORADIC PRACTICE OR A RARE DISCIPLINE. JESUS RECOGNIZED THAT HE COULDN’T CONTINUE POURING OUT IF HE DIDN’T COMMIT TO TAKING IN.
As a result, He never ran out of gas. And He never went down in flames.
Perhaps we would do well remembering Gary Powers’ fatal mistake. In not reading your gauges accurately…in running your engine hard until it conks out…you will never finish your mission.
IN RUNNING YOUR ENGINE HARD UNTIL IT CONKS OUT…YOU WILL NEVER FINISH YOUR MISSION
Better yet, we would do well in remembering Jesus’ counter-intuitive strategy. Only by being freshly fueled could He maintain His ministry – a ministry that made it all the way to its successful conclusion.
Lord, I have to admit that all too often I outpace my fuel. Thinking that I don’t have time to withdraw and take in, I end up running on fumes – if not crashing and burning. Help me to take the time, indeed, to make the time to fill my tanks with my Father’s presence.