A Hero Who Rescues from Inevitable Impact

For her fifty-fourth birthday, Shirley Dygert of Teague, Texas, decided she could use a little more excitement in her life. So this grandmother of three decided to sign up to sky-dive, leaping out of a plane from roughly thirteen-thousand feet.

When the big day arrived, Shirley suited up for her jump and was strapped on to her instructor, Dave Hartsock, in order to do a tandem dive. But what happened next was a little more excitement than Shirley had planned…and a whole lot of fear.

Dygert and Hartsock leapt out of the plane and, when they reached the altitude for their parachute to be released, they pulled the rip cord. The parachute opened but only partially, becoming tangled as it released. Thankfully, as every good sky-diver knows, you always need to have a reserve parachute in case something like this happens. However, the problem that Shirley Dygert and Dave Hartsock faced was that the primary chute had become tangled near the release point of the reserve parachute.

As Hartsock frantically attempted to untangle the primary parachute from the release point of the reserve parachute it became clear that he wouldn’t be able to accomplish this goal. So, with time running down, he pulled the rip cord on the reserve chute only to see that, just as he expected, the reserve parachute tangled up with the primary chute as it released, unable to open completely.

At this moment, Dygert recalls, “I thought…this is how I’m going to die. I thought, God help us”

Spiraling toward the ground, Dave Hartsock tried to do all he could to untangle the parachutes and save their lives. But their hopes were thin, and time was slipping away.

So, at 40 mph and 500 feet from the ground, Dave Hartsock told Shirley Dygert to do something she didn’t entirely understand: lift up her feet. Unsure of how this would help with the impact, she did what he said. Then Hartsock pulled down the control toggles in order to rotate their position so that his body was under hers to bear the impact. Dave Hartsock was going to be Shirley Dygert’s cushion.

“I can’t hardly believe it,” Dygert said, “he broke my fall.”

Shirley Dygert walked away from the impact relatively uninjured.  But Dave Hartsock, although he didn’t die, is now paralyzed with just a little movement in his right arm.

As they were hurtling to the ground, Shirley Dygert needed a hero to save her.

That’s not to unlike our situation in life. We are inevitably hurtling toward the end of our lives where we will face judgment before the righteous Judge. That will happen, Paul writes, “on the day when God judges everyone’s secrets through Jesus Christ” (Romans 2:16).

On our own, we are facing destruction. But there is One – Jesus our Savior – who, as it were, places Himself between us and the impending end. He becomes the cushion for us. He is our rescuing Hero.

Paul writes about that in this way: “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

[This was taken from my message from this past Sunday, “Lost and Found.”]



Steve Hartman, CBS News – Assignment America. “Heroic Skydiving Instructor Saves Life.” May 10, 2010. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/05/10/assignment_america/main6471254.shtml Accessed: October 30, 2010.

The Telegraph. “Hero skydiver paralysed ‘by saving parachute woman in freefall’”.  June 2, 2010. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/7795617/Hero-skydiver-paralysed-by-saving-parachute-woman-in-freefall.html Accessed: October 30, 2010.

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