“When nothing is left but life” The Eddie Rickenbacker story
Eddie Rickenbacker was a WWI flying ace whose exploits are legendary. A man of many talents, Rickenbacker was also a successful race car driver, an automotive designer, a government consultant, and a long-time president of Eastern Air Lines. During his eventful life, it was twice reported by the press that he had been killed when, in fact, he was still very much alive!
One of those times occurred in 1942 during the days of the second World War when Rickenbacker and seven others spent 24 days adrift in three small rafts in the South Pacific Ocean. Captain Eddie, as he was often called, was sent to tour various air bases and to deliver a secret message to General MacArthur. Due to a navigational error, the plane drifted hundreds of miles off course and the crew had to face the harrowing prospect of ditching the plane into the vast Pacific Ocean. The following is an excerpt from Rickenbacker’s book, Seven Came Through:
“The instant Captain Cherry wheeled east, all of us accepted the inevitability of a crash landing. We made ready to throw overboard everything that was movable. I helped Sergeant Alex pry open the bottom hatch in the tail and between us, we dumped all that high-priority mail into the blue Pacific.
Then the toolbox, the cots, the blankets, the empty thermos bottles, a brand new Burberry coat I had bought only a few weeks before in London, and all the baggage, including a beautiful suitcase that the boys and girls of Eastern Air Lines had given me for Christmas two years before….
Then I threw out my brief case, bulging with papers of which no copies existed – papers that I had considered important. Let the moment come when nothing is left but life and you will find that you do not hesitate over the fate of material possessions, however deeply they may have been cherished.”
Read that last sentence again. When nothing is left but life, material possessions lose their value. When you and I stand before God one day, the things that we worry and fret about and the things that we work and strive for will no longer be of significance. All that will matter will be your relationship with Jesus Christ. It won’t matter what kind of car you drove, how big your house was, how stylish your clothes were, how many parties you went to, how much money you made, or how big your bank account was. All that will matter will be your relationship with Christ.
Many of the items in Rickenbacker’s airplane seemed to hold tremendous value prior to their emergency. After that, however, those same items were quite disposable. Keep in mind that most of the things we pursue and most of the things that dominate our lives are disposable, too. Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior? Let the moment come when all that stands in front of you is eternity, and all that will matter will be your relationship with Jesus.
About the Author
William Wimmer is the Senior Pastor at First Church of God in Sapulpa. He has been in ministry for over 28 years.