ate one evening a professor sat at his desk working on the next day's lectures. He shuffled through the papers and mail placed there by his housekeeper. He began to throw them in the wastebasket when one magazine — not even addressed to him but delivered to his office by mistake — caught his attention. It fell open to an article titled "The Needs of the Congo Mission."
The professor began reading it idly, but then he was consumed by these words: "The need is great here. We have no one to work in the northern province of Gabon in the central Congo. And it is my prayer as I write this article that God will lay His hand on one — one on whom, already, the Master's eyes have been cast — that he or she shall be called to this place to help us."
The professor closed the magazine and wrote in his diary: "My search is over." He gave himself to go to the Congo. The professor's name was Albert Schweitzer.
That little article, hidden in a periodical intended for someone else, was placed by accident in Schweitzer's mailbox. By chance his housekeeper put the magazine on the professor's desk. By chance he noticed the title, which seemed to leap out at him.
Dr. Schweitzer became one of the great figures in this century in a humanitarian work nearly unmatched in human history. Chance? No. Providence.
— Dan Betzer
Fort Myers, Florida
in Pentecostal Evangel
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ne Mercedes Benz tv commercial shows their car colliding with a cement wall during a safety test. Someone then asks the company spokesman why they do not enforce their patent on the Mercedes Benz's energy-absorbing car body, a design evidently copied by other companies because of its success.
He replies matter-of-factly, "Because some things in life are too important not to share."
How true. In that category also falls the gospel of salvation, which saves people from far more than auto collisions.
— Jim Beranek Parkersburg, Iowa
ver a hundred years ago, in a Scottish seaside inn, a group of fishermen were relaxing after a long day at sea. As a serving maid was walking past the fishermen's table with a pot of tea, one of the men made a sweeping gesture to describe the size of the fish he claimed to have caught. His hand collided with the teapot and sent it crashing against the whitewashed wall, where its contents left an irregular brown splotch.
Standing nearby, the innkeeper surveyed the damage. "That stain will never come out," he said in dismay. "The whole wall will have to be repainted."
All eyes turned to the stranger who had just spoken. "What do you mean?" asked the innkeeper.
"Let me work with the stain," said the stranger, standing up from his table in the corner. "If my work meets your approval, you won't need to repaint the wall."
The stranger picked up a box and went to the wall. Opening the box, he withdrew pencils, brushes, and some glass jars of linseed oil and pigment. He began to sketch lines around the stain and fill it in here and there with dabs of color and swashes of shading. Soon a picture began to emerge. The random splashes of tea had been turned into the image of a stag with a magnificent rack of antlers.
At the bottom of the picture, the man inscribed his signature. Then he paid for his meal and left. The innkeeper was stunned when he examined the wall. "Do you know who that man was?" he said in amazement. "The signature reads 'E. H. Landseer!' " Indeed, they had been visited by the well-known painter of wildlife, Sir Edwin Landseer.
God wants to take the stains and disappointments of our lives and not merely erase them, but rather turn them into a thing of beauty.
— Ron Lee Davis in Mistreated
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or two years, because of severe tendinitis in both wrists, I could not pick up my young daughter, carry a log, or even open a twist-off pop bottle. To make matters worse, my wife and I, with help from family and friends, were building a major addition to our home when the tendinitis developed, so I couldn't even use a hammer. I wondered whether I would ever regain full use of my hands.
But our remodeling went on. We installed a second-story window on one blustery evening with the help of some Christian friends and a man named Willy, a retired military musician.
Afterward, before the window crew began eating dinner, I prayed a simple prayer. Willy listened carefully and watched how the rest of us interacted. Later, as he was leaving he said, "People don't help each other like this anymore."
I replied, "Sure they do!"
Willy came back to our house, day after day. He dug up our septic tank, cut diseased trees, and simply spent time with us. I could sense he understood my pain and our need. One afternoon as he and I walked and talked in the woods, I discovered why.
For most of his life Willy had lived for his music, but a devastating ear problem developed, preventing him from listening to music of any kind. As a result, rather than being put off by my injury, Willy was drawn to me because of our common ground. And before we went separate ways, Willy became a Christian.
As I look back, I don't
know if I would have taken time to talk with Willy had my wrists been well. Most likely I'd have been hammering nails or running a chain saw. So "all" I could do was listen and talk. But in God's plan that was enough.
— Stephen W. Sorenson in Discipleship journal
uring the presidency of Andrew Jackson, George Wilson, a postal clerk, robbed a federal payroll from a train and in the process killed a guard. The court convicted him and sentenced him to hang. Because of public sentiment against capital punishment, however, a movement began to secure a presidential pardon for Wilson (first offense), and eventually President Jackson intervened with a pardon. Amazingly, Wilson refused it.
Since this had never happened before, the Supreme Court was asked to rule on whether someone could indeed refuse a presidential pardon. Chief Justice John Marshall handed down the court's decision: "A pardon is a parchment whose only value must be determined by the receiver of the pardon. It has no value apart from that which the receiver gives to it. George Wilson has refused to accept the pardon. We cannot conceive why he would do so, but he has. Therefore, George Wilson must die."
George Wilson, as punishment for his crime, was hanged.
Pardon, declared the Supreme Court, must not only be granted, it must be accepted.
— George Maronge, Jr. Birmingham, Alabama
n November 20, 1988, the Los Angeles Times reported, "A screaming woman trapped in a car dangling from a freeway transition road in East Los Angeles was rescued Saturday morning. The 19-year-old woman apparently fell asleep behind the wheel about 12:15 a.m. The car, which plunged through a guardrail, was left dangling by its left rear wheel. A half dozen passing motorists stopped, grabbed some ropes from one of their vehicles, tied the ropes to the back of the woman's car, and hung on until the fire units arrived. A ladder was extended from below to help stabilize the car while firefighters tied the vehicle to tow trucks with cables and chains. 'Every time we would move the car,' said one of the rescuers, 'she'd yell and scream. She was in pain.'
"It took almost 2 1/2 hours for the passers-by, CHP officers, tow truck drivers, and firefighters — about 25 people in all — to secure the car and pull the woman to safety. 'It was kinda funny,' L.A. County Fire Capt. Ross Marshall recalled later. 'She kept saying, "I'll do it myself." ' " There are times when self-sufficiency goes too far.
— Scott Harrison Bloomington, Illinois
n a commuter flight from Portland, Maine, to Boston, Henry Dempsey, the pilot, heard an unusual noise near the rear of the small aircraft. He turned the controls over to his co-pilot and went back to check it out.
As he reached the tail section, the plane hit an air pocket, and Dempsey was tossed against the rear door. He quickly discovered the source of the mysterious noise. The rear door had not been properly latched prior to takeoff, and it flew open. He was instantly sucked out of the jet.
The co-pilot, seeing the red light that indicated an open door, radioed the nearest airport, requesting permission to make an emergency landing. He reported that the pilot had fallen out of the plane, and he requested a helicopter search of that area of the ocean.
After the plane landed, they found Henry Dempsey — holding onto the outdoor ladder of the aircraft. Somehow he had caught the ladder, held on for ten minutes as the plane flew 200 mph at an altitude of 4,000 feet, and then, at landing, kept his head from hitting the runway, which was a mere twelve inches away. It took airport personnel several minutes to pry Dempsey's fingers from the ladder.
Things in life may be turbulent, and you may not feel like holding on. But have you considered the alternative?
— Greg Asimakoupoulos Concord, California
n Is It Real When It Doesn't Work? Doug Murren and Barb Shurin recount: Toward the end of the nineteenth century, Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel awoke one morning to read his own obituary in the local newspaper: "Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, who died yesterday, devised a way for more people to be killed in a war than ever before, and he died a very rich man."
Actually, it was Alfred's older brother who had died; a newspaper reporter had bungled the epitaph.
But the account had a profound effect on Nobel. He decided he wanted to be known for something other than developing the means to kill people efficiently and for amassing a fortune in the process.
So he initiated the Nobel Prize, the award for scientists and writers who foster peace. Nobel said, "Every man ought to have the chance to correct his epitaph in midstream and write a new one."
Few things will change us as much as looking at our life as though it is finished.
— Rex Bonar Olathe, Kansas
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