Later This month, I will be flying to California for a series of appearances. The airplane will probably be a 67 wide body. In just a few short hours we will land in Sacramento. It will take about two and one half hours to drive to Tahoe, about half as long as it takes to fly from Atlanta. It is an amazing way to travel.
My brother Jim was the first to be licensed to fly small planes. He was also the first to die in my immediate family. When visiting Branson, Missouri, Ann and I went to one of the morning shows, hosted by the eldest son of Albert E. Brumley. Brumley was the author of both the lyrics and the music of the song, “I’ll fly away”. Each time I see a small plane fly over, I think of Jim and the song that Albert wrote.
On December 17, 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright were busy with another project. The report was recorded by a small town newspaper, The Virginia Pilot which read, “Over the sand hills of the North Carolina coasts, near Kittyhawk, two men from Ohio proved they could soar through the air in a flying machine of their own construction with the power to steer and speed it at will. . . Like a monster bird, the invention hovered above the breakers and circled over the rolling sand hills at the command of its navigator. After flying an incredible three miles, it landed gracefully to the earth again. It had zoomed upward, higher and higher until it reached an altitude of 60 feet.
“Eureka”, he cried, “it is a success”. The invention was the result of three years of hard work. But the inventor waited. Not until he had accomplished three miles of flight, putting the machine through all sorts of maneuvers en route, was he satisfied.
For the last 50 years, I have been using their invention, first flying the old DC-3s and now using the same invention perfected to join several hundred others on the same flight. Overnight flights have seats that lay back almost into a bed. Private electronics allow each passenger to have his own video or computer. Hot delicious meals are always available in the first class section, with altitudes of up to 38,000 feet, at speeds that are super-sonic. Without Orville and Wilbur, I would be out of a job, for there is no way that I could meet schedules without their invention.
It is reported that the Wright brothers father was a Bishop in one of America’s most prominent denominations. He rebuked his sons idea with the simple words, “If the good Lord intended for us to fly, he would have given us wings.”
Some 650 years before Christ was born, Isaiah, the prophet had a vision. “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims; (high ranking angels – Webster) each one had six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he did fly. . . . Then I said, Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6:1-9). These angels covered their face and feet and were flying with wings.
The psalmist David refers to our life and death in these words, “The days of our years are three score and ten, and if by reason of strength they be four score years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off and we fly away. . . . . And I said, Oh that I had the wings of a dove! For then would I fly away and be at rest” (Ps. 90:10; 55:6).
I am an optimistic soul and I think that the transition for the believer will be far different than we envision. We sing at the ‘Convalescent Center’ the second Sunday of every month. One song is always used to close that hour long service. It is the hymn written by Albert Brumley. This song, not only concludes our service but brings the audience to new heights of anticipation. Hands come together and feet begin to tap and old eyes sparkle looking forward to the rewards these words offer.
“Some glad morning, when this life is o’er,
I’ll fly away, fly away.
To a home on God’s celestial shore,
I’ll fly away, fly away.
Just a few more weary days and then,
I’ll fly away, fly away.”
So many of us have just not lived long enough to understand the full meaning of the chorus; “I’ll fly away, fly away O glory, I’ll fly away, fly away, in the morning, When I die, hallelujah, by and by, I’ll fly away, fly away.”