The Boneyard

What’s wrong with this picture?

At first glance, the aircraft in this video is attempting to take off. It appears at the point of rotation, its nosewheel rising off the ground into the takeoff attitude. There is sufficient airflow across its wings to generate the necessary lift to become airborne. Almost. Not.

Something is very wrong! This airplane is not speeding down a runway about to take flight; rather, it is basically powerless – it has no engines! Without power, an airplane simply cannot fly. On its own, it is unable to overcome the forces of gravity (acting to ground it, opposing lift) or drag (resistance, opposing thrust).

The “classic” Boeing 747-300 in this video would typically generate over 200,000 pounds of thrust from its four turbofan engines, capable of a maximum gross takeoff weight (MGTOW) of over 400 tons. Despite looking pretty good from the outside, this airplane is effectively empty inside – sadly, unable to accomplish the mission for which it was designed.

Without a source of power and stripped of its systems, it is little more than a shell – grounded – despite “functional” wings. Yet, it was made to fly! Indeed, the poster of this video explains that, on this particular day, the wind speed exceeded 80 knots, demonstrating clearly that the Boeing engineers knew what they were doing in designing and creating this magnificent machine and equipping her with very effective airfoils.

Unfortunately, this aircraft is now sitting lifeless, cast out into the desert – though purchased at a great price – it is interred in “the boneyard.” Since WWII, it is one of thousands of meticulously engineered machines – both military and civilian – built to fly, yet parked indefinitely. The desert – that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water… (Deut 8:15) – is ideal for boneyards – graveyards – because the dry climate slows deterioration while the dying aircraft await disassembly – to be sold for scrap, their parts scavenged.


Boneyard at 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG), Davis-Monthan AFB

A graveyard is a place set aside for burial of the dead…despite having so many occupants that appear, from a distance, fit to fly, yet not equipped to do so. Who wants to live in such desolation?

Jesus warned: “Woe to you…for you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” (Mat 23:27)

USAF B-52 Bombers on display for post-Cold War Russian satellites.

God does not desire for us to remain in the desert, our bones wasting away. Man was designed by God! (Gen 1:26a) He formed us (Isaiah 43:7) and when He breathed life into us …man became a living soul. (Gen 2:7)

Apart from Him, however, we are lifeless: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

Before Him, we were dead in our transgressions (Eph 2:4) – like those twisted, rusting metal shells perishing in the boneyard, awaiting destruction. But…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Ti 1:15) – to die for us, that we might have life (John 3:17). “…For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16, emphasis mine)

By His death on the cross and through His resurrection, we can have the power of the Holy Spirit living in us:  But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Rom 8:11) …No de-rated climb power there – simply awesome!

We can overcome the forces of the world – the gravity and drag that act to ground and to limit us (1 Cor 10:13) – but only through Him, by the power of the Holy Spirit:  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil 4:13)

First, we must choose to accept Him and to follow Him – with all our heart, mind and soul (Mat 22:37)! Then, through repentance, turning away from sin, we are made new: …wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones You have broken may rejoice. (Psalm 51:7-8)

With the knowledge…that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus…Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.. (2 Cor 4:14, 16) Jesus said: I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10) Praise God!

Indeed, we are meant to fly! …to soar on wings like eagles! (Isaiah 40:31)

Just as an aircraft is made for the purpose of flight, it must be flown as the Designer intended –  according to His instructions! And though in Christ we have renewed life, our lives are not our own (Is 58:11-14) – we were purchased at a great price – by His blood (Rev 5:9) – and for His purpose. (Eph 1:11, Mat 28:19) To go our own way…well, we risk ending up in the boneyard!

A promise from Isaiah 58 – redeemed from death in the desert:

The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden…Those from among you shall build the old waste places (and) be called the Repairer…the Restorer… If you turn away…from doing your pleasure…and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways…Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth… (Isaiah 58:11-14, emphasis mine)