Call Our Father
While kayaking in southern England off the island of Wight, Mark Ashton-Smith, a 33-year-old lecturer at Cambridge University, capsized in treacherous waters. Clinging to his craft and reaching for his cell phone, Ashton-Smith's first inclination was to call his father. It didn't matter to the desperate son that his dad, Alan Pimm-Smith, was at work training British troops in Dubai 3,500 miles away. Without delay, the father relayed his son's mayday to the Coast Guard installation nearest to his son's location. Ironically, it was less than a mile away. Within 12 minutes, a helicopter retrieved the grateful Ashton-Smith.
Like this kayaker, when we are in peril, our first impulse should be to call our Father—the one we trust to help us.
Christians Have A Divine Connection
In April 2001, in the midst of Israeli/Arab conflict, a motorcade carrying the Security Service Chief of Gaza came under bullet fire from Israeli troops. The frightened security official called Yasir Arafat from his car for help. Arafat, in turn called the U.S. Ambassador, who then called the U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell. Colin Powell then phoned Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, who ordered the shooting to stop immediately. And it did. The Security Chief's connections eventually saved his life.
In a similar way, Christians have a divine connection to the ultimate power of the universe that can make a world of difference in any situation.
Ruth Ryan, wife of Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, had one moment she looked forward to in every one of her husband's games. In Covering Home, she writes:
It probably happened the first time on the high-school baseball diamond in Alvin, Texas, in the mid- 1960s. Then it happened repeatedly for three decades after that. Inevitably, sometime during a game, Nolan would pop up out of the dugout and scan the stands behind home plate, looking for me. He would find my face and grin at me, maybe snapping his head up in a quick nod as if to say, There you are; I'm glad. I'd wave and flash him a smile. Then he'd duck under the roof and turn back to the game.
It was a simple moment, never noted in record books or career summaries. But of all the moments in all the games, it was the one most important to me.
Those who love us long for us to acknowledge them, to give them our attention. This is true not only in marriage and family, but in our relationship with God. Throughout our days, in both the big and small moments, God enjoys it when we "step out of the dugout" and smile in his direction.
Choice Contemporary Stories & Illustrations For Preachers, Teachers, & Writers
Craig Brian Larson, Baker Books, p. 166.
God Gave Me Back My Wife
Phil Callaway didn't know what to say when his young children asked if Mommy was going to die. His wife, Ramona, suffered horrible seizures.
Hundreds of friends and relatives prayed, but Ramona's weight eventually slipped to 90 pounds. Medical specialists tried everything, but by the fall of 1996, the seizures were occurring daily, sometimes hourly.
Phil rarely left Ramona's side. He wondered if she would even make it to her 30th birthday. One evening, when things looked utterly hopeless, Phil paced their dark back yard, then fell to his knees. "God!" he cried out. "I can't take it anymore. Please do something!"
Suddenly a doctor's name came to mind. Phil called the doctor, who saw Ramona the next morning and diagnosed a rare chemical deficiency.
Within a week, Ramona's seizures ended. Her eyes sparkled again. The miracle was so incredible, Phil says, "God gave me back my wife."
Miracles Are Possilble For Those Who Pray And Believe
Baseball fans will talk about the first game of the 1996 American League championship series between the New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles for years to come. The game was played in New York. Going into the bottom of the eighth inning Baltimore led 4-3. With one out and Armando Benitez on the mound, Yankee Derek Jeter hit a towering blast to right field. Orioles right fielder Tony Tarasco ran back to the wall and timed his jump perfectly to snatch the ball before it hit high off the right-field fence.
But before the ball landed safely in his glove, the unexpected happened. "To me it was a magic trick," said Tarasco later, "because the ball just disappeared out of midair."
Not quite. A twelve-year-old boy from New Jersey named Jeff Maier had skipped school that day to come to the game and was seated in the front row in right field. When that towering fly ball fell straight in front of him, he did what any Yankee fan would do: he reached out over the wall with his baseball glove and scooped the ball into the stands.
The "magic" continued. The umpire erroneously called it a home run, tying the score. The game went into extra innings, and in the bottom of the eleventh Yankee Bernie Williams hit the home run that won the game, giving the Yankees a 1-0 lead in the series. Afterward the Orioles called the fan interference an outrage. Yankee fans called it a miracle. The Yankees went on to win the series 4 games to 1.
Like the Yankees, sometimes we need outside intervention. We need God to reach out and break the rules of nature to help' us. Miracles are possible for those who pray and believe.
Choice Contemporary Stories & Illustrations For Preachers, Teachers, & Writers
Craig Brian Larson, Baker Books, p. 176.
A man was being pursued by a roaring, hungry lion. Feeling the beast's hot breath on his neck and knowing his time was short, he prayed as he ran. He cried out in desperation, "O Lord, please make this lion a Christian." Within seconds, the frightened man became aware the lion had stopped the chase. When he looked behind him, he found the lion kneeling, lips moving in obvious prayer. Greatly relieved at this turn of events--and desirous of joining the lion in meditation, he approached the king of the jungle. When was near enough, he heard the lion prayer, "And bless, O Lord, this food that I am about to receive."
The Tale Of The Tardy Oxcart
Charles R. Swindoll, Word, p. 456.
Listening To God
In Character Forged from Conflict, Gary Preston writes:
Back when the telegraph was the fastest means of long-distance communication, there was a story, perhaps apocryphal, about a young man who applied for a job as a Morse code operator. Answering an ad in the newspaper, he went to the address that was listed. When he arrived, he entered a large, noisy office. In the background a telegraph clacked away. A sign on the receptionist’s counter instructed job applicants to fill out a form and wait until they were summoned to enter the inner office.
The young man completed his form and sat down with seven other waiting applicants. After a few minutes, the young man stood up, crossed the room to the door of the inner office, and walked right in. Naturally the other applicants perked up, wondering what was going on. Why had this man been so bold? They muttered among themselves that they hadn’t heard any summons yet. They took more than a little satisfaction in assuming the young man who went into the office would be reprimanded for his presumption and summarily disqualified for the job.
Within a few minutes the young man emerged from the inner office escorted by the interviewer, who announced to the other applicants, "Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming, but the job has been filled by this young man."
The other applicants began grumbling to each other, and then one spoke up, "Wait a minute--I don’t understand. He was the last one to come in, and we never even got a chance to be interviewed. Yet he got the job. That’s not fair."
The employer responded, "All the time you’ve been sitting here, the telegraph has been ticking out the following message in Morse code: `If you understand this message, then come right in. The job is yours.’ None of you heard it or understood it. This young man did. So the job is his."
Tune Into Spiritual Things
A Native American was in downtown New York, walking along with his friend, who lived in New York City. Suddenly he said, "I hear a cricket."
"Oh, you're crazy," his friend replied.
"No, I hear a cricket. I do! I'm sure of it."
"It's the noon hour. You know there are people bustling around, cars honking, taxis squealing, noises from the city. I'm sure you can't hear it."
"I'm sure I do." He listened attentively and then walked to the corner across the street, and looked all around. Finally on the other corner he found a shrub in a large cement planter. He dug beneath the leaf and found a cricket.
His friend was duly astounded. But the Native American said, "No, my ears are no different from yours. It simply depends on what you are listening to. Here, let me show you."
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a handful of change--a few quarters, some dimes, nickels, and pennies. And he dropped it on the concrete.
Every head within a block turned.
"You see what I mean? It all depends on what you are listening for."
As Christians, when we pray, we need to listen very intently for God's direction. We need to take our ears and hearts away from earthly things, and tune them into spiritual things.
More Stories For The Heart
Alice Gray, Multnomah, p. 99.
The Praying Hands
About 1490, two young friends, Albrecht Durer and Franz Knigstein, were struggling young artists. Since both were poor, they worked to support themselves while they studied art.
Work took so much of their time and advancement was slow. Finally, they reached an agreement: they would draw lots, and one of them would work to support both of them while the other would study art. Albrecht won and began to study, while Franz worked at hard labor to support them. They agreed that when Albrecht was successful he would support Franz who would then study art.
Albrecht went off to the cities of Europe to study. As the world now knows, he had not only talent but genius. When he had attained success, he went back to keep his bargain with Franz. But Albrecht soon discovered the enormous price his friend had paid. For as Franz worked at hard manual labor to support his friend, his fingers had become stiff and twisted. His slender, sensitive hands had been ruined for life. He could no longer execute the delicate brush strokes necessary to fine painting. Though his artistic dreams could never be realized, he was not embittered but rather rejoiced in his friend's success.
One day Durer came upon his friend unexpectedly and found him kneeling with his gnarled hands intertwined in prayer, quietly praying for the success of his friend although he himself could no longer be an artist. Albrecht Durer, the great genius, hurriedly sketched the folded hands of his faithful friend and later completed a truly great masterpiece known as "The Praying Hands."
Today art galleries everywhere feature Albrecht Durer's works, and this particular masterpiece tells an eloquent story of love, sacrifice, labor and gratitude.
Stories For The Heart
Alice Gray, Multnomah, p. 265.