I heard recently that we should pray that God would lead us to a place where, unless He shows up, we will die.
That’s a scary prayer! It’s kind of like praying that we will have a huge trial so we can grow in patience. Who would pray for trials? Isn’t that a little masochistic? It seems to me that God allows abundant experiences in our lives that present opportunities to grow and to reach out to Him without praying for them. Maybe I’m unspiritual, but that’s how I see it!
Yet sometimes we can grow complacent and smug in our attitude toward God, His Word and our Christian walk. We can fool ourselves into thinking that we’re doing okay and that we don’t need Him to help us. We can begin thinking like the world, acting and reacting according to our natural selves – our sin nature. This can creep up on us without hardly noticing.
It is time to notice, my dear friends!
The Word teaches us that God allows us to experience situations – personally, in our loved one’s lives, or in our nation – that shake us up a bit.
In these times, we find ourselves out of control.
This feeling of total helplessness varies according to the depth of the problem. Sometimes it lasts for days or weeks or years. If we can’t find a solution to the problem, this feeling of being out of control can lead to depression. Then, other times, the feeling of absolute helplessness and panic lasts only a few minutes. Or even seconds.
But in all these high crisis situations, God is in control, and He has a purpose for each one.
It’s our job to pay attention and see what He is doing so we do not waste our trials and sorrows. We will use them to grow in our faith and for His glory.
I would like to share a story that happened to my aunt and uncle, Phil and Gladys Salisbury on March 30th, 1994. They used to reside in Boise, Idaho, but now they are at home with Jesus in heaven. During their lifetimes, they loved Jesus Christ with all their hearts, minds and souls. Making their home in Nampa, Idaho, they served with the Gideons and found great joy in sharing God’s Word with others. My uncle, Phil, was my Mom’s younger brother, and I loved him dearly for his humor, his loud laughter, and his love for the Lord. Neither Phil nor Gladys would lie, especially about something like this, and they were not prone to exaggeration.
When God Showed Up on the Freeway, as told by Gladys Salisbury
I enjoy driving and since my husband, Phil, is legally blind, I find myself behind the wheel a lot. I have to admit that I enjoy driving, and I like to think I’m pretty good at it. Yet it only takes a nanosecond of time to make a mistake. A mistake that might cost you your life.
One such moment occurred while we were driving west on Highway 84, which is a nice, four-lane freeway from Nampa, Idaho to Yakima, Washington. Let me tell you what happened.
We left early that morning from Nampa, Idaho with special prayer for me as I’d been sick and was still feeling weak. I remember that we prayed that we’d be a special blessing to someone along the way. We were heading to Yakima, Washington, to attend the funeral service for my brother-in-law, Lyle Johnson.
As we set out that morning, my spirits lifted as I admired the lush green fields of spring, the distant mountains, and the billowy clouds against a dark blue sky.
In Pendleton, Oregon, we stopped for breakfast. While we were there, we gave our waitress a New Testament. She was excited to receive it and showed it to the other employees. We ended up giving all the waitresses a New Testament, and even the manager was interested. As we left, they expressed their warm thanks and gratitude.
We praised God for this open door of ministry and started out again.
I put the car in cruise and set it at 65 mph. I asked Phil why he hadn’t given the manager a New Testament, and he said it was because he didn’t have one. I said, “Well, there’s one in the glove compartment.”
He looked and, sure enough, there it was. When he brought it out, I took my eyes from the road to look at it. It took me about two seconds to look at it and take it from him. It was then that I realized the car was out of control because it swerved and the surface was bumpy. Then I saw the highway markers whizzing past on the left side of the car!
The car began to skid and it hit one of the markers.
I panicked and jerked the wheel to the left. We spun around three times in the middle of the highway, doing neat donuts, then we shot into the median, still going 65, heading for a long line of heavy traffic on the eastbound lanes.
I yanked the wheel again because I didn’t want to cause someone else to die. This time we went right, shooting across the westbound lanes, straight toward a steep embankment. At the bottom of this steep drop-off were big rocks and a lake. Perhaps five seconds had gone by and I hadn’t touched the brakes once.
The most terrifying feeling of total helplessness engulfed me as we hurtled off the road. I cried out, “Help!” In that flashing second, I thought, I’ve just handed out five New Testaments, and now look what I’ve done! I’m going to cause us to drown!
Then I blacked out.
Phil heard my cry and didn’t know if I was praying to God or asking for his help. He could see the steep drop we were heading for, and the water below. He thought, instead of one funeral, there will be three. He knew we were going to die, yet he had deep peace in his heart.
But we didn’t die.
I regained consciousness and realized the car had stopped. Phil took my hand and we looked at each other in absolute amazement and wonder. We couldn’t believe we were alive and sitting there in the car.
“Honey,” he said gently, “I think God just saved our lives.”
Looking back through the rear window, we could see a cloud of dust and blue smoke that was still in the air from our shenanigans a few seconds ago. I started to cry because I thought the motor had fallen out of the car when I hit the post. Phil assured me that the motor was running. I listened. Yes, it was. And then I noticed that it was in park!
Someone with big hands had caught the car as it flew off the road, turned it around, and set it gently on the shoulder of the highway.
They had also the foresight to put the gear in park! (Remember it had been in drive, set at 65 mph?) I believe it was a holy angel of God Almighty because hadn’t we prayed for a safe journey? And aren’t there heavenly beings around us all the time, watching, helping, and protecting us?
God also performed another miracle that day. There was no traffic in the eastbound lanes during the time we were whirling around. And as we sat there and soaked in the delight of the miracle, there were still no cars! I am so thankful that even though I was careless and foolish,
God was in control, and He protected not only our lives but the lives of others.
After we stopped shaking, we continued our trip to Yakima, and after the funeral, I had one relative tell me that even though he was a confessed atheist, he now believed in God! Perhaps that is why God allowed me to drive off the road that day.
It only takes a second of inattention to head the wrong way.
How long does it take to start heading the wrong way spiritually? Only an instant, and if we’re not paying attention, we will end up in a disaster far worse than losing our physical lives.
Heed this verse from Ephesians 5:15,16, “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.”
What can we learn from this story?
Pay attention to God and His Word.
When you feel out of control, when life has forced you into a situation in which you are tempted to take the reins of your life into your own hands and walk away from God, remember this lesson. It means that we should spend quality time reading the Bible, praying about the crisis, and turning it over to Him. Ask God for wisdom and He will give it to you.
Be careful how you live.
Every moment, every day, be aware that danger and disaster lay only a breath away. One misstep can cause untold damage to your life and the lives of those around you. Be careful in your speech, your thoughts, the things you see, the way you spend your time. Study God’s Word in an intentional way. Let it guide you.
Panic and fear are Satan’s territory. We can make wrong decisions when we are fearful. Don’t allow fear in your life. Trust God instead and have faith that He will help you. Just like my aunt and uncle learned when their car hurtled off the freeway. God will lift you up. God will protect you. God will give you joy in your journey. Trust Him.
I am so glad that when I feel out of control, I have the assurance that God is right beside me, closer than my heartbeat, lifting me up, giving me courage, and protecting my soul.
I have peace in the face of the turmoil we see in this world, and I have joy in knowing I am bound for heaven.
How has God blessed your life in the midst of horrific situations? How has He proved Himself faithful to you when you feel out of control? Write and tell me. I love to hear from you! God Bless.