This is Not the Only Life

Story of the Day for Tuesday February 7, 2012

This Is Not the Only Life

                           I know that I shall not be put to shame. The one who vindicates me is near.

                                                            Isaiah 50:7-8

On May 9, 1957, Air Force Lt. David Steeves disappeared.

Steeves took off in a Lockheed T-33 A trainer jet from Hamilton Air Force Base near San Francisco and vanished. Weeks later, when the Air Force could find no trace of the pilot or the aircraft, Steeves was declared legally dead.

Fifty-four days after his disappearance, however, Steeves emerged alive from Kings Canyon National Park east of Fresno.  He told the tale of an explosion in the cockpit that forced him to bail out. Injuring his ankles on a rough landing, he survived in the snowy mountains for two weeks before finding a remote cabin with meager food supplies. After he regained his strength he hobbled for days on swollen ankles through rugged terrain before encountering two pack-train guides who led him out of the wilderness.


Lieutenant Steeves was immediately hailed as a national celebrity.

But, as the weeks went by, questions began to emerge. Why had the aircraft still not been found? And how could anyone survive the ordeal he described?

Could Lt. Steeves have flown the jet to Mexico and then sold it to the Soviets? Or maybe he landed it at a secret location where it could’ve been dismantled and smuggled out of the country.

Soon rumors swirled around the mystery of the missing jet. A national magazine, which planned a major article on the pilot’s incredible survival, canceled the story, claiming discrepancies in Lt. Steeves’ account of his experience.

The innuendos escalated. Time magazine ran the headline: “Certain Discrepancies,” while Life magazine published a story with the title: “The Strange Case of the Sierra Survivor, Pilot’s tale of mountain ordeal arouses some strong suspicions.”

Weary of the allegations, the lieutenant requested, and was granted, a discharge from the Air Force.


Have you ever felt the sting of unjust allegations? When we’re falsely accused we don’t want sympathy so much as we want vindication. All the same, Jesus brings us sympathy. He has gone through far worse than we ever will. He was accused of witchcraft, of blasphemy, of being demon-possessed, of being a con man, and of plotting to overthrow the government.

But, beyond sympathy, Jesus teaches us not to wilt. Never let false accusations slow you down from boldly doing what is right.

And Jesus also reminds us that vindication seldom happens in this life. But, then again, this is not the only life. God has the last word.


Suspicion hovered over David Steeves’ head and haunted him until his death in 1965.

Eleven years later, a Boy Scout troop from Los Angeles was hiking in Kings Canyon National Park when they discovered a cockpit cover. The serial number, 59-9232A, matched that of the missing Lockheed jet.

(copyright by and by Marty Kaarre)