On Higher Ground

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By Bill Horner

Opportunities to share the faith come at unexpected times


But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15).

Scripture exhorts us to be ready anytime to speak our faith with others because we cannot always see the Divine appointments the Lord arranges for us.

It had rained all day long. I was in my first pastorate, in rural Robertson County. It was cold outside, and we soon realized that what was falling was freezing rain. Weather forecasts predicted it would continue all night. The strange-looking crust covering the lawn by late afternoon looked ominous.  The parsonage we lived in was old, drafty, and heated with an inadequate heat pump.  What if we lost electricity before morning?

About 10 p.m. I heard our heat pump laboring badly. Outside I discovered an inch of solid ice covering the intake fan. Tom, my chairman of the deacons, was an expert in heating and cooling units. Laid-back Tom told me over the phone not to worry, it would be alright. What he didn’t tell me was the reason not to worry—soon power lines would be down all over.

Within a half hour, we lost electricity. We had a good-sized kerosene heater, but they were not intended for all night use. Nevertheless, we needed heat.

So I herded Marcia and our three kids into the living room to bed down for the night. Lighting the kerosene heater, I let it burn while the others slept. After midnight I put it out, hoping the residual heat would linger.

All night long we heard what sounded like rifle shots all around us as huge limbs, covered with ice, broke off from giant oak trees. Somehow we passed the night. By morning the house was quite chilly, but the bed covers were quite warm. So I was not only startled but annoyed when a knock came to our front door.

“Who in their right mind would be out in this weather,” I wondered as I got up and entered the cold cruel world.

It was Fred, a young man that I had visited some months earlier for the church. He and his wife and kids lived about a mile behind us. Only the woman with him at the door was not his wife.

“We were trying to get to Springfield and slid off the road,” he fretted.  “I need to use your phone to get a tow truck out here.”  I told him he’d never get a tow truck out there that morning with all the roads iced over. The only solution was for me to take them back home—and pray I wouldn’t slide off the road, too.  

  Fred made me nervous as my car threaded its way around downed tree limbs. “Those limbs weren’t down when we came through here a few minutes ago.”  I began to keep one eye up as I drove.

But despite my uneasiness I had a greater concern—Fred’s spiritual welfare. 

I held my breath and began gingerly, “I have to ask you, Fred. Am I taking you both to the same house?”

Fred admitted that he and his wife were having problems, had separated, and now Lisa was living with him at the house. “You know the Lord is not pleased with that arrangement,” I advised him. “I’m telling you as a friend.”

I encouraged them to end that behavior and spoke to them both about turning their lives over to the Lord. I figured they couldn’t get too angry with me, since I was giving them a ride. Fred hung his head and admitted I was right; Lisa said nothing.

After I let them out, I carefully picked my way back home, dodging tree limbs as I went. I don’t know if they ever took my words to heart.  But at least they heard the truth from someone who cared about them—even on such a morning.   

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16).