Our Best Lifeline
By Steve Hearts
As a boy, I listened to a drama story about a young paratrooper in the U.S. army, named Keith, who depended on his faith and connection with the Lord to bring him through many perils. So strong was his faith in the Lord’s protection that he refused to even carry a gun, despite the protests of his friends and superiors.
One day, while on a plane with a failing engine, with nothing but the ocean below and still a good ways from land, instead of panicking along with the others on board, Keith prayed out loud, beseeching God to make the motor start again. It did so before his prayer was even finished, eliminating the need to parachute out of the plane.
“Say,” said one of his buddies, “are your prayers always answered like that?”
“Jesus is a friend who never fails,” replied the young believer.
“No wonder you don’t need a gun!” exclaimed the former.
At another point in the story, a fellow soldier called out to the two paratroopers to come to a gathering in a Flying Fortress1 to hear a radio broadcast from America. This greatly interested Keith’s buddy. Keith, on the other hand, insisted that they should continue with what they were doing.
“Don’t you like to listen to the news from home?” asked his buddy.
“Yeah, but I have a feeling,” said Keith. His friend agreed to stick with him. No sooner had they turned down the offer and continued on their way when an enemy plane came flying by, bombing the Flying Fortress and killing all of its occupants. “That would have included me, except for you and your ‘feelings,’” commented Keith’s friend. Through these and other such incidences, the young man became a believer.
A number of happenings in my own life have caused this story to ring true—making me see the urges I often feel as more than mere “feelings.” My family and I currently live in northern Mexico, where there is much crime and insecurity. We regularly learn the importance of keeping in tune with the Lord, obeying the tugs and nudges He puts on our hearts.
A few months ago, my stepmother was preparing to go to a nearby store to buy some needed items. Just as she was about to step out the door, she felt a strong urge to not leave yet but to instead work at home. She had not been working long when she heard shots in the distance. She later found out that a shooting had occurred on the very road she had planned to walk in order to get to the store.
It is often easy to dismiss or brush off the urges of the Spirit, especially when following them means a change in routine or an interruption. When I was a teenager, I was taught a lesson along this line.
My father was out sharing the Gospel in a rather dangerous part of Los Angeles, California. At one point during the day, my mother felt a strong urge to stop what we were doing back home and pray for him. Not wanting to be interrupted, I dismissed her suggestion, thinking she was overly concerned. Only minutes later, Dad called, informing us that the car had been stolen. Although it was miraculously found and brought back to us only days later, the lesson was not lost on me.
Just recently, we planned to attend a weekly Bible study with some good friends of ours. But at nearly the last minute, we felt the urge to instead stay home and do an activity with the little ones. The next day, we found out that violence had broken out throughout the city, including in the area where the meeting was held. We praised the Lord for His prompting and direction, and for helping us to follow it.
One evening several years ago, while visiting relatives, I felt a strong urge to pray for the safety of an aunt who was on her way over. I stopped what I was doing to pray. She arrived several minutes later and told us that while stopped at a light, she’d had a close call with a driver who was heading full speed in her direction. She shot up a prayer for him to put on the brakes and he did, just in the nick of time for a serious accident to be averted. When I asked what time this had happened, I found out that it was the exact same moment in which I was urged to pray.
How easy it is to overlook prayer at times and focus instead on the multitude of things that “need” to get done. Yet, in doing so, we may fail to see what a “lifeline” prayer and communication with the one above really is. No matter how many gifts we have, prayer is, and will always be, our best lifeline.
1 The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is a four-engine heavy bomber developed in the 1930s for the United States Army Air Corps.—Wikipedia.