“It may have seemed insignificant to you,” said the voice on the phone, “but we remember that night as if it were yesterday.”
It was a stormy night about two years ago, and I was traveling home with several native students I am sponsoring to attend our university. We were on the first ferry out after a major hurricane.
“John, pray for us!” Rosie cried, clinging to a support beam. A wave broke over the bow, barely missing us while gale-force winds drove spray into our faces like so many bullets.
“Guys,” I replied, “we have read God’s promises, sung about His deliverance and prayed for His protection three times in the last ten minutes. Now it’s time to be quiet and trust Him. If it will glorify God, or save some lost person, then God will not let us die. Even if this ferry sinks, or even if someone were to shoot us point-blank, we cannot be killed if God decides that tonight is not our time to die. On the other hand, if God sees that someone may be saved or some other good would come of our dying, then we are ready. We have confessed our sins, accepted His salvation and committed ourselves to Him. This is what faith means. It doesn’t matter whether we live or die tonight. To the Christian, that is the difference between a few more years of service on Earth or fast-forwarding to the resurrection.” With that, I lay back on the boxes of cargo and tried to catch up on my sleep.
“We thought you were crazy that night,” said my student over the phone. “We couldn’t see how you could just lie there when we were all about to die. But you know, you were right. It wasn’t our time yet, and God didn’t let us die. Now, whenever we get scared, we remember that night and your calm trust in God.”
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).