For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you. Jeremiah 29:11-12
Years ago, when I had a subscription to Readers Digest, I had a reading plan.
First, I would look at the pages filled with humorous stories taken from life in America or the military. Then I would look at the end of the articles where they had some deep thoughts or funny vignettes, which I often used in my sermons.
Then, with the preliminaries out of the way, I began reading the articles.
I always started with the real-life stories. You know the kind of articles I mean. One month there was the story of a person who had been attacked by a grizzly. Other months told the story of someone who had been pinned in an auto wreck, or who had been caught under the collapse of a skyscraper, or was riding in an airplane when the engines failed, or who had been cornered by some killer, or ....
The story was always about calamity, catastrophe, tragedy and adversity.
What most interested me about those stories was not how the person managed to survive. Nor was I intrigued by the details of how the storyteller managed to get into his or her desperate situation. Maybe that was because I wasn't worried about being attacked by a grizzly, or being buried by the collapse of a skyscraper, or being cornered by a drug-taking killer.
No, what intrigued me was what I like to call, the "moment of revelation."
You see, every one of those folks, somewhere in the course of their story, had a crystal clear moment when they realized they were in trouble, when they knew they might not survive. In those stories there was always a paragraph that read "The grizzly was shaking me by the scruff of my neck, and I realized I might never see my family again"; or "The beam of the skyscraper was pressing down upon my chest, blood was running into my face, and I realized I might never see my family again"; or "My legs were pinned in the car by the steering wheel, and I realized I might never see my family again."
You get the picture.
The next line was the most interesting. Inevitably they said, "I had never been a serious believer in God before, but at that moment I prayed." Sometimes they said, "When I was young, I had been a churchgoer, but since I got married I had never been a serious believer in God, but at that moment I prayed."
Amazing! All these self-sufficient, self-reliant, self-actualized, and self-contained folks suddenly felt helpless, defenseless, vulnerable, and very, very mortal. At that moment they needed someone. They had discovered when your life is suspended by a thread, you want a sure and trustworthy hand holding the other end of that string. They needed a Lord who loved them, a Savior who would rescue them, the Holy Spirit whose rescue spans this world and the next.
They needed what you have: the Triune God.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, grant that I may believe in the Savior even when there is no life-threatening motivation to do so. Even more, grant that I may share the life-saving Redeemer's story with others. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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