Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Flight of Lawnchair Larry!

You may be familiar with this story. Back in 1982, 33-year-old truck driver Larry Walters made national news. Larry had a habit of spending his weekends in his Los Angeles backyard, just south of the L.A. International Airport, drinking "Pepsi" and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. He would just sit in his favorite lawn chair, staring at the houses around him in his subdivision. Not a real exciting life.

Apparently, one-day boredom prompted Larry Walters to buy some balloons and a tank of helium. He figured on tying the balloons to his lawn chair, filling them with helium, and floating up for an aerial view of the neighborhood. He judged that he would get no higher than 100 feet, but just in case, he got out his BB gun and loaded it. He planned to regulate his altitude by shooting out a couple balloons. I’m not sure how many six packs of …Pepsi…he had consumed when he came to that idea, but Larry thought that it was worth a try. 

So Larry Walters of Los Angeles went out and bought 45 big weather balloons, a huge tank of helium and some rope. First, he secured his lawn chair to the ground, and then he filled the balloons with helium. One by one he tied them to his chair. Before lift off, he went inside the house and got another six pack of…Pepsi…, a couple PB&J sandwiches, and his BB gun. Then he went out and sat in his lawn chair. He had instructed his neighbors to cut the ropes securing the chair when he was ready. “Let’s Go!” he yelled, and the ropes were cut. 

But he didn’t go up 100 feet. He went up 11,000 feet. Shot straight up in the air! And the BB gun? It was useless since he was using both hands to hang on to the chair for dear life! 
He zoomed straight up into the landing pattern at LA International Airport. The pilot of an approaching Continental DC 10 reported that he had passed a man in a lawn chair, and control tower told him to report immediately upon landing. They thought the pilot might have been drinking too much…Pepsi. 
Eventually, they sent up helicopters to rescue Larry Walters. They closed the airport and diverted all landings and takeoffs at LAX while they played tag with this guy in a lawn chair at 11,000 feet! When they finally got him down, he was surrounded by TV crews, the police, fire, and rescue squads and plenty of curious people. It was a major event. 

“Were you scared?” asked a reporter. “No, not really.” Larry answered. “Are you going to do it again?” asked another reported. “No.” “What in the world made you do it the first time?” Larry thought about that for a minute and said, “Well, you can’t just sit there.” 

Peter was a "Larry Walters" kind of guy at times. There's an unbelievable story about Peter walking on the Water in Matthew 14. Jesus had just fed 5000 and sent the disciples off across the lake where there was a looming storm. After a time of prayer, Jesus walks out to the boat on the water. On. The. Water. That's a whole different blog post. Anyway, Peter sees him and here's what happened:

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”        “Come,”  he said.  Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
I look at guys like Larry Walters who say..."well, you can't just sit there" and I think..."well, I sure can." Peter, really? You know people weren't made to walk on water, right? 

Look through the pages of the Bible and you will see them filled with people God used because they weren't content to "just sit there." God called them to action and they answered. The need for courage arose and they leaned hard into their faith in God to give them strength.

 - Moses stood up to Pharaoh, parted the Red Sea, and led a nation to freedom! (He tried to convince God that he wasn't the guy for the job at first.)
 -  Joshua led armies against seemingly insurmountable odds
 - David became king.
 - Peter walked on water and became the rock on which Jesus founded the church.
 - Paul, a devout Jewish leader, brought the message of Jesus to the Gentiles (that would be most of you)

What keeps you "just sitting there?" Fear? Lack of ability? Possibility of failure? Let's face it, it comfortable from the couch. It's comfortable in the boat. It's easier to not take a stand. It's easier to join in with everyone else than to be a difference maker. "Sitting there" protects our reputations, careers, and money, but what does it cost us?

Picture yourself there on the sea of Galilee in the middle of the storm. Look around. Where’s Jesus? He’s definitely not in the boat. If you truly desire to follow Jesus, then occasionally you are going to have to walk on water. Once you realize that and begin to step out, you can have full assurance that you will have the supernatural support that you need. Peter only walked on water because he had faith that Jesus’ power could hold him up. You can do the same.

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