STANDING ON THE WORD
It happened on a Sunday evening at Tenerife airport in the Canary Islands.
A KLM 747 from Holland began its takeoff, streaking down the runway through a heavy fog at about 180 miles an hour. “Gotte dam!” the Dutch pilot exclaimed when he spotted another 747, a Pan Am from the U.S., directly in front of him. The Pan Am tried to escape by turning off the runway but it all happened so fast. The Dutch pilot pulled hard on the lift control in a desperate attempt to leap over the Pan Am, the tail end of his KLM 747 dug into the pavement, his mammoth ship bounced off the top of the Pan Am and crashed and skidded into a fiery explosion. All 243 passengers and 14 crewmen died instantly.
Inside the Pan Am 747 everything was an incredible chaos. Screaming, panic, dying. Fire everywhere. A melting inferno, people shriveling in the heat, unspeakable agony. Flying shrapnel, the roar of fire, pleas for help, woeful shouts for loved ones. And much, much cursing.
With each passing second passengers became incinerated corpses. Some were trampled under the on rush of people escaping through holes and doors. Some who jumped free were killed by others jumping on top of them. Yet 68 of the passengers and crew escaped that fiery ordeal, some by nothing less than a miracle.
One such miracle was Norman Williams, 51 years old, a born-again Christian from Los Angeles. While others only inches away melted to the floor, he was not burned, not even a little. In that screaming panic he was kept at peace. When a huge fiery piece of steel shot at him, he brushed it away with his arm, just like he was superman.
In that moment of shrieking panic he saw himself and his aging mother in his living room at home, both laying hands on the Bible, praying for a safe trip. Unusual, his mother had tears in her eyes as she prayed for her son. That was just yesterday.
Norman cried out in that fiery furnace, “in the Name of Jesus, through Your shed blood, I stand upon Your Word.” He was guided by an unseen force through the havoc until he saw a hole in the roof. Seeing the hole and escaping through it were two different matters, however. How could he possibly lift his sluggish heavy frame up and out that hole? The fact is he could not. All the time he was declaring, “I stand upon Your Word! I stand upon Your Word!” He is enveloped in a supernatural serenity and somehow finds himself lifting his body out of the hole, not knowing how. He jumps down to the slippery wing, makes his way to the far end and, still declaring “I stand on Your Word,” jumps thirty feet to the ground and limps his way to safety. His hands are badly cut from the edge of the hole in the roof, one foot was broken from the jump, but he was safe, not a burn on his body.
583 lives were interrupted by sudden death in a very few moments. Death is often like that, it sneaks up on you. But Norman Williams was prepared for death. Had he not escaped the Tenerife disaster, he knows he would be in a better place today. He would be with Jesus. Standing on the Word protected him from certain death. Standing on that same Word will protect him, and anyone else, from eternal death, and assure a place in heaven.