By AUSTEN ALEXANDER
About 50 years ago three friends asked me if I’d like to go to the Paris Agricultural Exhibition. One of them had recently got his pilot’s licence and we could hire a four-seater plane and fly to Orly airport.
Of course I’d like to go! We had imported Simmental cattle and a few Charolais, so it would be great to see the Limousin breed that would no doubt be on show.
The plane was hired, but on the morning that we left Aldergrove airport there was a 60 mph gale blowing, and as we flew into it the little plane was tossed about.
One friend was sick, and I was very scared that we might never see Paris.
To add to our problems, the oil gauge was sitting in the red when we were about three miles past the Isle of Man. We put out a distress call to the IOM airport and with the wind now on our tail we were back over the airport in no time.
Our gallant pilot got us on to the tarmac, escorted by a fire engine on each side. Wow! Terra firma never felt so good.
We had something to eat and made a few enquiries as to what conditions were like for the rest of our journey to Paris, but were told that it was snowing over the Welsh mountains.
As there was no de-icing equipment on our little plane, the decision was taken to turn back to Aldergrove.
With the wind on our tail, there was not the same turbulence; but there was now dense fog and the Control officials said that we would have to fly low and try to come in under visual sight.
I was in the front of the little plane trying to look out for landmarks. Going over Carryduff we were just skimming over the chimney pots.
The pilot said to me: ‘Keep a sharp eye out for the cross’. I really did not know what he meant, but then I saw it. A long line of lights with a shorter line going across it. What a lovely sight! The wind calmed down a little and our brave pilot put her down on the cross. It was a relief to be back safely.
How many people in this turbulent world, with dangers on every side, have got a glimpse of Calvary’s cross, and the Son of God there taking our place, paying in full our debt of sin so that we might go free?
You could turn to Him now in faith and trust Him to keep you safe in time and for eternity. But do it before it is too late. The week after our experience a similar small plane crashed in England and all four passengers were killed.
We did get to Paris on a regular flight the day after our terrifying experience. It was a beautiful, sunny day as we landed at Orly.
We stayed near the Champs-Élysées, enjoyed the big show, and the nearest we got to purchasing a few Limousin cattle was four steaks in the posh Limousin restaurant. When we got the bill, it felt like we had purchased the whole beast!
As we consider how many close shaves we have had in life from accident or disease, and so many are cut down in the prime of life, we need to praise the Lord for all His goodness to us.
I would like to quote the words of Robert Murray McCheyne, a Scotsman who only lived until he was 30 years of age:
When this passing world is done,
When has sunk yon glaring sun;
When I stand with Christ on high
Looking o’er life’s history:
Then, Lord, shall I fully know,
Not till then, how much I owe.
n Austen Alexander is a Northfield Bible Weeks Committee member.
n Northfield Drive-in are being held at Corrigs Road, Newcastle (near the Burrendale Hotel) on July 11-18 and July 24-25th at 8pm, and July 12-18 at 11am.