Payne Stewart was a professional golfer known for his signature knickerbockers and ivy cap. He was very popular with the spectators who loved his attire and appreciated his beautiful swing. Stewart won 11 PGA Tour events, including 3 major championships during his career. Sadly, his life ended tragically at the age of 42. On October 25, 1999, Stewart was flying from his home in Orlando, Florida to Texas for The Tour Championship. He was planning to stop off in Dallas to discuss building a new golf course for the SMU golf program. At 9:33 a.m. the pilots of Stewart’s Learjet did not respond to a call to change radio frequencies, and there was no further contact from the aircraft. The jet was apparently still on autopilot and had veered off course. Several Air Force F-16 fighter planes were sent to investigate and provide an escort. As the fighter jets pulled up alongside Stewart’s plane, they noticed frost or condensation on the cockpit windshield, which is indicative of a loss of cabin pressure. Apparently everyone on board had become incapacitated due to hypoxia. Any slight delay in putting on the oxygen masks, coupled with cognitive and motor skill impairment could have resulted in the pilots and passengers being rendered unconscious. The F-16’s flew alongside the plane for an hour and twenty minutes until it ran out of fuel and plunged to the earth. One of the F-16 pilots said that it was a very helpless feeling to fly alongside another aircraft and realize that the people inside are unconscious and unaware of their fate. Can you imagine being only fifty to one hundred feet away and not being able to do anything except watch a plane full of passengers descend further and further down until it impacts the earth and bursts into flames?
Think about how many people in this world are on a runaway plane, veering off course, with nothing to stop them. Spiritually speaking, they are spiraling further and further down. Some of them are only fifty to one hundred feet away from you. As a Christian, what will you do about it?
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Mt. 28:19 & 20).”