When my preteen daughter had been scheduled to spend four hours alone in an airport between connecting flights, I was one frantic mom. So I prayed for God either to change the situation or somehow make me unafraid. As it turned out, her grandmother had unexpected plans to be in that city on that day and was delighted to spend the time with her. Whew! I cried with gratitude.
About the same time, I was reading the story of Joseph in Genesis in the Bible. It occurred to me that even before Joseph's brothers threw him into a pit, the Midianites who later saved him must have already begun their journey that would take them past that very spot. (It's worth noting that the Midianites were slave traders, unlikely heroes.) They didn't know they were part of God's plan to rescue Joseph, but they were. And the rescue plan was in motion even before the crisis. Whoa! What a concept!
And it happened again a few weeks ago. I was enjoying a rare vacation day at the beach. The water was warm, and the surf was excellent for boogie boarding and bodysurfing. Although I was the oldest and least buff swimmer (by a few decades and more than a few pounds), I was having a great time judging the waves and riding them in when I could catch them just right, and jumping over and diving through the ones I couldn't catch. But then the surf started to build, the waves seemed relentless, and the undertow was getting stronger. I got trounced a couple of times, tumbling out of control underwater.
I'd been bodysurfing a long time, was getting a little tired, and wondered if it might be wise to head for the beach. But it felt like a better idea to stay there and pray. First I thought of the subject of that week's Bible Lesson from the Christian Science Quarterly, "God the Only Cause and Creator." That reminded me that God is in control of His creation. And God being good, He must cause only good effects. Then a phrase from "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy popped into my head. It's in one of the places that talks about the power of God as divine Principle. This Principle, she wrote, "said to the proud wave, 'Thus far and no farther' " (p. 124).
I'd always thought of this phrase as referring to the shoreline. But now, for me it also meant God governing the wave completely. I felt the safety of being within God's power, and my anxiety was gone. I happily resumed riding and diving into the surf.
A few minutes later, I heard a call for help. Looking around, I saw a little boy about 30 feet farther out. He was struggling to keep his head up and calling for help. I was the closest one to him, so I waved a signal to the lifeguard who was standing on his chair looking out our way. Then I headed out to the boy. As I swam toward him, a large swell came up and swamped him. I wasn't afraid, but I prayed, "Bring him back up! Oh please, bring him back up!" When he popped back up he could see me, and I called to him that I was coming to get him.
A few strokes later I reached him, and he grabbed my hand and hung on, gasping, "I thought I was going to die!" As he held tight around my neck, I paddled in, assuring him that he was safe. It was strenuous for me to keep his head above water and to swim over the swells with only one arm free, but I was able to keep going until the lifeguards met us and took him back to shore. (Now his mom was grateful!)
Later, as I lay on my towel, watching the little boy building a castle – now with his life vest on – I was tempted to feel like an (unlikely) hero. But then I humbly realized that I was just part of this divine rescue plan – being reminded of God's power, hearing the call for help, being able to do what was needed. I was in awe of God's care.
So, where are the Midianites when you need them? They're on their way.