On January 15, 2009, Captain Sully (Chesley Sullenberger) was at the controls of US Airways flight 1549 out of La Guardia airport New York. Not long after take-off the plane struck a flock of geese causing the immediate loss of both engines.
After following all the emergency procedures, including mayday communications with the control tower, Sully determined their safest option was to do a water landing on the Hudson River off Manhattan.
There were 208 seconds between the engines failing and the plane successfully landing on the river – saving all 155 passengers and crew. 208 seconds. Less than 3.5 minutes. Where, in an unprecedented situation – not predicted or specifically prepared for, Captain Sully had to make decisions and execute actions that had weighty consequences. The lives of all on board – and potentially many on the ground had the wrong decision been made – were in his hands.
He summarised it this way…
“One way of looking at this might be that for 42 years, I’ve been making small, regular deposits in this bank of experience, education and training. And on January 15, the balance was sufficient so that I could make a very large withdrawal.”
Discipline. Many years of discipline. Showing up. Training. Learning. Doing. Watching. Teaching. Discipline. 42 years of multiple unspectacular flights and potentially tedious safety reviews and refresher courses. 42 years becoming sure of his own skill, an aircraft’s capacity and his crews’ competency. 42 years of delivering over a million passengers safely to their destinations with little acknowledgement beyond his pay check.
For you feeling stuck in the mundane. These small deposits are shaping your life. Doing your best today. Growing, learning, adapting, persevering. This is the substance you’ll draw upon when the stretch comes, when life is difficult.
For you in the bumper times. This is the time of filling and preparing. This is the time of storing up – joy, confidence, habits, attitudes and character that will sustain you and others in times of hurt, confusion and doubt.
For you in the 208 seconds. Pause and recall what you know outside of this time of pressure and intensity. Remember your “experience, education and training“. Lean in to the strength that has been deposited in you knowing God’s power will be manifest in your weakness.